A Texas high school football game that ended 91-0 last week led to a bullying complaint filed by a parent from the losing team against the winning team’s coaching staff. According to NBCDFW both coaches involved disagree with the bullying complaint.
Aledo, the winning team, started substituting starters in the first quarter and the game was played with a running clock. One thing the team wouldn’t do was take a knee. Coach Tim Buchanan, whose team has outscored opponents 485-47 this year, said that would be almost as unsporting as running up the score:
“To go out and tell your kids, ‘No, I don’t want you to play hard, because we’re ahead,’ that’s against every fundamental coaching strategy that you have,” he said.
Having worked as a high school sports reporter in my past life, I’ve seen far too many lopsided football games. Sometimes there’s really not much you can do to keep the score down. It’s noncompetitive and neither team ends up having very much fun. A running clock or playing the junior varsity squad can help, but you still have to play out those 48 minutes. If one team has too much speed or the other can’t tackle once a kid gets through the first line of defenders, massive one-sided scores will happen.
Is it bullying? That’s probably taking it a little too far.
My homestate, Connecticut, made news a couple years ago when it implemented the so-called “50-point rule” where coaches could be suspended for winning by more than 50 points. The rule was essentially targeting one coach, who had no problem winning games by 70 points. In the end it made a lot of games a farce. I’ve seen games that were 49-0 nothing at the half, meaning teams would come out of the break and immediately kneel down or run out of the back of the endzone on punts for a safety.
The nature of high school sports will produce noncompetitive games. There isn’t a perfect solution. So long as one team isn’t intentionally trying to humiliate or run up the score on the other, we can move on.