Comments about ‘Letter: No sportsmanship, no class’

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Published: Saturday, March 15 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Sandy, UT

I teach my children that "Winning isn't everything there is in life".

So do you teach your children to pound a kid into the ground and put him into the hospital when they have fights at school? I mean obviously the other kid is not as good as your kid right?

There is no "Honor" in running up the score, As for ESPN article, I would expect nothing less, But I take mine ideas from people who actually matter and do this for a living. Lavell Edwards never ran up the score intentionally, he used subs so they could get experience, ran running plays so that it took time off the clock, he never once told his kids to back off and not play hard, but he also knew what It was like to be on the other end of the scale.

There is nothing wrong with teaching children to do the best they can, but they also must learn there are limits to what is "Right".

Only a person with low self esteem would think that running the score up is OK to do.

USS Enterprise, UT

To "Confused" Do you also teach your kids that they shouldn't do better than the other kids?

Lets take this lesson out of sports and apply it to school.

Would you be proud or ashamed of your child for getting 100% on a test when the rest of their class got 75% or less on the same test?

Would you tell your child to shoot for a 24 on the ACT because you don't want them to out perform their peers?

You may think that is sounds absurd, but that is the same thing you are teaching when you say that it is wrong for a basketball team to score a lot more than their opponent. Do you really want to tell kids that they shouldn't play their best?

It isn't about winning or losing. I doubt the losing team was intentionally trying to lose. It is about doing your best and using what you have been taught to the full extent of your abilities. When you do that, some times you win by a large margine, and sometimes you lose. The issue is how you react to winning or losing. Are you as gracious losing as winning?

Provo, UT


You can still try your best and not run up the score. You can liberally sub and tell the subs to keep playing hard. There is nothing wrong with that. In football, you can still tell the players to execute the plays called but instead of calling long pass plays you call short passes and run plays. In basketball you can still play hard but not full court press up 40 points but work hard on other phases of the game in full effort and execution. This is the proper way to coach. If all of this was done in this game and Bountiful still won by 60 plus points, there is no issue. I don't fault the boys in any way. The issue might still exist with the fans and some of their behavior. But if the coach kept the starters in way past the time the game was a blowout, kept pressing and little substitution was done, it would be fair to have issue. I won't make judgment because I wasn't at the game but I will stand by the general philosophy offered as one who has coached, even quite successfully, for nearly three decades.

USS Enterprise, UT

To "eagle" what is wrong with outscoring your opponent? Yes the coach could have rotated in other players more, but he was not required to. What is wrong with what the coach did? Some people didn't like it, but what is wrong with it? If I had a team that smashed their opponents 200 to 0, did I do anything wrong or did I do my job?

Cedar Hills, UT

@Redshirt - I agree with many of your comments, but feel you're so wrong on this one. Eagle is exactly right. Once a team has a game decidedly in hand, sure there's nothing against the rules to keep your starters in at full throttle, or continuing with a full court press, or holstering imaginary pistols after every basket made, or setting legal brutal picks, reigning down 3-pointers, going repeatedly for long bombs in football when the receiver is worlds better than the safety, yelling AIRBALL, AIRBALL for 30 minutes, etc.

When a game is totally in hand, and you keep playing that way, just because it's allowed doesn't make it right. It's called poor sportsmanship, lack of class. Everybody hates you for it. Do you have more respect for John Wooden or for Bobby Knight? Did showing class and demonstrating sportsmanship keep John Wooden from winning games, even convincingly?

NO ONE has said a coach and players should be merciful by intentionally allowing an inferior opponent to stay within striking distance. The situations we're debating are far more than convincing victories, they're relentless humiliating beatdowns that should embarrass any winning coach, team, and parents involved.

Deep Space 9, Ut

To "DSB" I am still trying to understand what is wrong with winning, even when the point difference is large.

Would you tell the kids who consistantly get straight A's to not study so hard, and let the kids getting C's and D's feel better about themselves?

Cedar Hills, UT

@Redshirt - Not one commenter has even hinted there's anything wrong with winning or getting straight A's. This debate is about sportsmanship once you've ALREADY won the game from any practical standpoint.

In your scenario, would you have the straight A student compete directly with the D student, one on one, in front of the class, every day, showing up the D student in front of everyone? Do you think it's acceptable for a teacher to allow this kind of competition for grades? The A student competes against himself, not publicly against failing students.

Every college and pro basketball team dribbles out the ball on the last possession when victory is in hand. Are they failing to get the best out of their players? In a blowout, the winning team puts in subs, and plays more conservatively over the final minutes. Again, that's sportsmanship. The kind of relentless humiliating beatdown described in this article is just plain being a jerk. I don't believe you would coach that way.

Deep Space 9, Ut

To "DSB" but in acedemics you do have the straight A student showing up the D student all the time. When the student with all of the D's is sent to the special classes for kids that have learning problems, everybody knows it. At the same time, when the special class for the smartest kids comes around, all of the kids know who goes there. Right there you have the separation, and you have the situation where the A student shows that they are that much better than the D student.

If there is nothing wrong with keeping to the game plan that the coach already had, eventhough he had a large margin for victory, who is showing the poor sportsmanship? I would contend that it is the fans that are complaining about the point difference.

The coach did nothing wrong, and the only people taking offense are people who were not on the court.

Cedar Hills, UT

A merciless pounding is not good sportsmanship in any arena. There is no comparison to excellence in study, wherein a student competes against himself and the subject matter to master the class. The D student can pull himself up by studying and hard work, in fact he can attain a tie or overtake the top student by his own efforts, without the top student being diminished in any way. This is not even in the same universe as a comparison, and I'm surprised at your insistence that it's comparable, because I generally find your arguments pretty well reasoned.

I challenge you to find a single professional or college-level coach who coaches his team the way described in the article. I guess top level coaches just don't know as much about sportsmanship as you and the coach at issue in this article. I'll take a competitive coach with sportsmanship and class any day over a pure bully whose goal is to humiliate others. Which, by the way, straight A students do NOT do simply by virtue of getting good grades.


@Redshirt - are the D students being held in place by the A students? Do the A students somehow take action that prevents the D student from higher achievement? A full court press, which is one team's aggressive, pro-active focus to steal a possession from the opposing team, is the equivalent exactly to what actions by the A students against the D students? Basketball teams try to prevent the other team from scoring - how do the A students attempt to prevent the D students from scoring? The simple fact is that A students engage in singularly self-promoting study and hard work to advance themselves - they take no defensive actions to keep others down.

In other words, your analogy is completely irrelevant and makes no sense whatsoever.

Also, who said there's anything wrong with winning, or beating another team soundly, or having a large margin of victory? The article made no mention that beating another team soundly was in any way inappropriate, and neither has any commenter. It was all, let me repeat, ALL about the MANNER in which the victors piled on unnecessarily, and the tacky actions of some fans.

Provo, UT


I just put up some parameters. Again, I have no idea how Coach Maxwell handled the situation since I was not there. But as one who has coached you can both win and lose with dignity. Once the outcome, which has been defined well above, is practically decided, there is no point to humiliate your opponent further. There are ways in which your players can play hard but can be restrained by the strategy employed by the coaches. This restraint comes from how you substitute, to the plays you call, etc.

Provo, UT


I love your comments for the most part though I disagree with one thing. Bobby Knight is basically considered heel by many for his tantrums in the press, tirades against his players and officials though many of all of these love him. But yes, he lost his dignity many times compared to John Wooden. However, I think both Knight AND Wooden agree on one thing. And that one thing is that you win with dignity and certainly they would be more of the mindset of you and me on this issue vs. Redshirt. And anytime your philosophy jives with a John Wooden, you're on the right path.
As for Knight, he wouldn't humiliate his opponents or embarrass the game or the spirit of competition in this particular way.

As for Knight on other things, we all know he had his issues though if you truly investigate Knight, you might have a better opinion of him as his mistakes or shortcomings are well documented but more of his players loved and respected him more than not and him and Wooden graduated their players like few others that had that kind of success.


@eagle - you are absolutely right, and immediately after my initial post, I thought of how all the tantrums I've ever seen Bobby Knight throw, I can't think of one that was against an opponent. I don't recall ever seeing him humiliate opponents with unsportsmanlike strategy, or hearing any such accusation against him.

So, even one we typically think of in the context of boorish coaching behavior still shows respect and sportsmanship toward his opponents. Off the top of my head, I really can't think of a single high-level coach who manages his games like the coach in the article, if the article is accurate.

Thanks for your spot-on defense of Bobby Knight - a passionate and well respected, great coach.

Bountiful, UT

Good letter. I agree.

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