I saw in the paper where the Tri-Village Lady Patriots beat Houston in Basketball 101-36. That is quite the score for a high School game! I would like to congratulate the Lady Patriots for such a fine showing. However, I am sure there are those of you out there who think this might have been overkill and unnecessary. This is an argument that has been going on in sports forever; when is enough, enough?
In sports, you work hard; practice, lift, run, stretch, and study so you can be better than the other team or competitor that is doing the same work as you are. Athletes compete to find out who is better and to represent in the best way they can their schools and communities.
They try to score as much as they can, it’s what they are training to do. It represents their ability and amount of hard work they put in. Athletes figure out quickly in competition which team or person is worse, equal or better. So do coaches. The problem for the coach is when do I call off the dogs? Consider their position; their athletes have done everything he has asked, or more, now it is on display. Should he or she allow them to show their talent or do I stop them from embarrassing the other team? When does it become an embarrassment? Is it an embarrassment?
I have been on both ends of the score. Losing really does stink, especially when you get beat like a rented mule! Winning feels great when you beat the snot out of a team!
Both emotions and situations are teachable moments, it is the coach who must keep everything in perspective. When you get beaten badly, it is the coach who must remind the team that they were beaten by a superior opponent, and that this is the level you want to achieve. Get over it, and work harder for the next match.
Be respectful to the winners, shake their hand for a job well done, then no time for tears, we must work harder! Most athletes react positively and forget the score quickly. This may hurt some feelings, but there should never be any “participation” awards.
As Herm Edwards, now coach at Arizona State, once said when asked in a press conference about a score, he stated bluntly “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME, THAT IS WHY THEY KEEP SCORE!” Woody Hayes, the legendary coach of Ohio State once said, “THERE IS NOTHING THAT CLEANSES YOUR SOUL LIKE GETTING THE HELL KICKED OUT OF YOU!”
If you get beat like Houston did, it is not the Lady Patriots fault, they just worked harder, and by looking at the box score, they also shot lights out. That may never happen again. On the other end of the score, we should look at it from the coach Gray’s side.
His team is shooting and playing out of their minds, their hard work has come to a head, they’re reaching full potential. When does he call off the dogs? When does he sit his starters to avoid injury?
Records could be broken today, should he allow them to set new ones at the expense of an inferior team? In my opinion, yes, allow them to be their best, this is also a very teachable moment.
After the game, this becomes the time to teach the athlete how to win with humility. Shake hands and be respectful. In the locker room, allow the team to enjoy the victory, but remind them that this could and probably will happen to them someday. Teach them to enjoy the sense of accomplishment and hard work they have endured, but be aware it is just one game. It is now over, enjoy it, but be ready to prove yourself again next week.
The Lady Patriots maybe had the best shooting game they will ever have, who knows? They beat a Houston team that was not as good. They did not play their starters the whole game. Should they be criticized? NO! They played to their utmost ability, and that should be celebrated.
Congratulations are in order! HOWEVER, sometime this same type of whipping could be put on them, and how they react will say a lot about who they are. Coach Gray will have another teachable moment. Win with humility, lose with grace, but try your best all the time, and remember, sometimes your best is just not good enough! That’s the way I see it, from the sidelines.
Contributing columnist Mike Stegall a 27 year former OHSAA high school football official and current Darke County Commissioner