Bad sportsmanship or unavoidable blowout?
I'm as much against coaches running up scores as anyone you'll ever meet.
And since I heard about the 107-2 score from an Indiana high school girls basketball game, I've been trying to find evidence that Bloomington South head coach Larry Winters let competitiveness outweigh class in coaching his team to the 105-point victory over Arlington.
But I'm still not sure. After scouring in internet for more information on the game, it's hard to say that he did, especially without knowing exactly how his team got to 107, I can't make a judgment. Did his team press full court for the whole game? Did they shoot three-pointers while leading by 70?
It's hard to believe a team could put up that kind of number without doing those things, but maybe his team was just that much better.
I know some of you are thinking that it's not the winning team's fault the other team isn't any good. That the goal in sports is to win and the losers should either get better or get out the way of good teams.
Of course the goal is to win, but after that goal is secure coaches and players have a choice. Some choose to win with class. Others run up the score.
There are no rules against it, at least not in sports rule books. But to me, there's just no point in demolishing an opponent just for the sake of scoring 100 points.
Sure, there are situations in which scores will get out of hand no matter what coaches do to keep it classy. They can put in the junior varsity, try to slow down the game or take other measures, but if their players are that much better there is nothing that is going to stop them from scoring over and over.
There's nothing wrong with teams playing as hard as they can for an entire game. No basketball team should be told not to shoot or play defense. But there are things teams can do against overmatched opponents to win without embarrassing that opponent.
In baseball, most teams stop stealing bases when they get a big lead. In football, most teams that are winning by a bundle will run the ball to keep the clock moving and always punt on fourth down.
According to reports in local newspapers, Arlington was recently taken over by a private company and had much of its student body, including many athletes, transfer to stay in public schools. It was playing with several first-year basketball players.
An article by Nate Newell of the Indianapolis Star reported that Winters' team was playing an 'aggressive 2-3 zone' defense. Winters insists he wasn't trying to run up the score.
He has been quoted as saying he didn't want to 'tell his players to stop shooting.' He felt that his team dribbling and passing around the Arlington players would embarrass them more than a 105-point loss and maybe he's right about that. But at least it wouldn't have drawn national attention.
When Bloomington South got up by 40 or 50 points, Winters probably could have done something to keep it from turning into a 100-point blow out.
There's nothing embarrassing about having your team walk the ball up to midcourt or letting a team trailing by 50 get the ball to midcourt before turning up the defense.
Maybe his team did that and still won by that much. Those of us who were not at the game really can't say.
Bloomington had only nine players and the coach rotated four new players in every few minutes. He didn't have junior varsity players on his bench that night because they had competed in a JV tournament.
The two teams are scheduled to meet again next season, but both coaches said it's unlikely that game will be played.
That's probably the one positive that comes out of the whole mess.