One of the big sports news items this week, besides the Super Bowl, is the girls basketball team in Dallas that lost by a score of 100-0. Of course, there was the predictable outrage and the predictable blame put on the coach who allowed such a rout to happen. Seems it is his fault and when he refused to apologize, he was fired. He said neither he nor his girls did anything to apologize for. His bosses apologized for him and their school and said, "this game did not reflect a Christlike and honorable approach to competition". So was the coach fired for not being Christlike or for not apologizing like he was told? Or for both? Other sources (ESPN) said he did not intentionally run up the score. He stopped pressing after it was 25-0. He scored 59 points in the first half. By the end of the third quarter they were up by 88. So it looks like he could have made it much worse with a little more effort. The school that lost was not making a big deal out of this. In fact, the media is all over them and the losing team has been on all the major networks. Everyone feels sorry for them. Which, I imagine, is what they didn't want to happen.
I don't know all the facts. I know I have been on the losing end of routs before and what is worse than getting beaten badly is getting beaten badly by a half hearted effort. I would rather get beaten by a team that was playing hard than by one that was giving my team a break by playing softly. If administrators are concerned about routs they can and should institute a mercy rule for their leagues. That takes the pressure off the coaches. Coaches play to win and they should. Kids are taught to play hard to win and they should. Sportsmanship is part of the game before, after and during a game, to be sure, but that affects the way the game is played, by the rules and with respect for the players.
The reason this story has caught our attention is because the game was played by Christians. Christians have always had to deal with the perception that they don't play as hard as non-Christians. Some people figure Christians lose some of their competitive fire when they become Christians. How can an athlete be Christlike and want to knock some guy's head off on the other team ( I played football at a Christian college where we prayed for the opponents before the game and then the coach urged us to go take their heads off, within the rules, of course). So, a Christian's competitive juices are suspected to be watered down. Thus, the comment by the headmaster of this Christian school. What is a Christlike score? Would it have been more Christlike to win by 50 points? How does 50-0 reflect Christ more? Would Christ have even played sports? There is not a whole lot in the Bible about competing in the arena of sports. Sports in its purest form is a game (big time college and pro sports have made the game into an entertainment commodity sold as a business). But the girls basketball game is about as pure as sports gets. It's about learning to play the game as well as you can. You learn to play the game so you can win. Players understand this. Unfortunately, some administrators do not. They are the ones who decide to have teams and schedule games. The Dallas team that was blown out has not won a game in five years. Yet, they scheduled this other team. They knew what was coming and they still wanted to play (or they knew what was coming and had to play). They could have played and not kept score. They could have exchanged players and made the teams as even as they could. They could have played til one team got 25 points ahead. They could have kept score by quarters and then started over. There were lots of things they could have done. But, they chose to play basketball as it was meant to be played (as the coach of the winning team said). One team won and one team lost. That's what happens. Both teams learned some lessons. The losing team learned humility. The winning team learned how to be gracious in victory and treat their opponents with respect. Those were Christlike lessons. But, enough of this nonsense about one team scoring 100 more points than the other not being Christlike. That's the game both teams agreed to play. And the score doesn't reflect any one's Christianity. That's just silly.