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Since when has winning become a crime?

When I was a young kid playing sports, I was taught that if you work hard, you will be rewarded.

Apparently, that is no longer the case, as we see coaches being questioned and punished for their teams being overly talented.

On Jan. 5, Arroyo Valley High School girls’ basketball coach Michael Anderson lead his team to a victory over Bloomington High School. It’s not an issue that he won, but it was the matter of how. The final score was 161-2, with his team leading 104-1 at halftime.

In an news interview, Anderson admitted that he didn’t expect his team to be that dominant.

“I’m not trying to embarrass anybody. And I didn’t expect my bench to play that well,” Anderson said, then added, “I had one (bench) player make eight of nine 3’s.” After the game, Bloomington Coach Dale Chung expressed disappointment in how the game became so lopsided.

“People shouldn’t feel sorry for my team. They should feel sorry for his team, which isn’t learning the game the right way,” Chung said. According to Chung, Anderson’s team used a full-court press the entire first half.

When school officials learned about the score, they promptly suspended Anderson for two games.

This isn’t a typo. He was SUSPENDED for WINNING. Since when was that such a big deal in high school sports?

ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd referred to this in his radio show, “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.” He defended Anderson, while slamming the parents and coach of the team who lost for complaining.

“The kids … they got over it 15 minutes later,” Cowherd said. “You know who couldn’t get over it … the parents, who want their kids to have fight and grit but are afraid of the process to get there.”

This is another lesson I learned as a kid: sometimes you have to learn how to lose to learn how to win. By losing, you get the motivation to work harder not to get beat.

On Oct. 3, Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., beat Mount Tahoma High School in a football game 91-0. Lincoln, coached by former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, had recently won a game 62-0.

Kitna told the News Tribune that this game was difficult for him to coach primarily because he didn’t want to rob his starters of playing time in the first half, but didn’t want it to seem like he was rubbing it in.

“It’s hard because on one end we are trying to preach our guys not to play according to the scoreboard … for our kids, we want them to play hard all the time, winning or losing,” Kitna said.

Mount Tahoma Coach Ricky Daley, in the same story, showed a professional attitude, while praising Kitna at the same time.

“I know Jon from before he was a head coach, I know he’s a good man,” Daley said.

“People are going to question (the score), but what are you going to do? Just give us the ball back? They had a lot of short field and that just made it much easier for them to score. We’ve just have to work on a lot of things,” Daley added.

I agree. If your team gets beat up 91-0, and the other team is doing all they can to make it easier on you, then you deserve to lose. Kitna benched all his starters at the end of the first half, did not blitz from the second quarter on and did not throw a pass more that five yards in the air. And the other team STILL couldn’t score.

Another example of this is a high school baseball game that was played last May in John Day, Oregon. On May 23, Grant Union High School defeated Prairie City 65-0.

After Grant Union had a 41-0 lead going into the third inning, Coach Brian Deleney pulled all his seniors from the lineup, inserted junior varsity players, and stopped advancing bases on passed balls. The team also did not steal a base the entire game. The game was stopped after five innings, with the mercy rule being put into effect.

For those who don’t know what the mercy rule in high school baseball is, after five innings of play, if a team has a lead of more than 10 runs, then the game must be stopped.

Prairie City Coach Mark Woodbury, who graduated from Grant Union and was a member of the 1990 state championship team, felt the Prospectors did all they could to not embarrass his team, without completely giving up.

“I want everyone to know that Grant Union was not running up the score on us,” Woodbury said.

“Don’t get me wrong, I still want to beat them. But that day wasn’t today.”

I can say this much. Yes, there is such a thing as piling it on. But when a team is so successful that they are being punished for being successful, I feel that is going too far. Sometimes you have to lose some to win some.

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  • Photo Illustration by Stephen Davis/The Telescope: Stephen Davis/The Telescope | All Rights Reserved
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