Battleline: be good athletes | Sports
One of the blatant messages we have received over the years is to be good sportsmen.
But is it something that everyone follows?
There have been some pretty egregious examples of overkill in playoff events this calendar year, which have not served to further the cause of fair play. I like to call them “sufficient winners”.
All smug winners need to remember that everything works in cycles. A day will come when these programs will find themselves with a huge deficit.
The two that stand out the most are Ft. Zumwalt South’s 21-0 Women’s Soccer District took the win over Warrenton last Saturday and the Incarnate Word Academy’s 105-26 Women’s Basketball District took the win. on Marquette.
Imagine what would have happened if there were no leniency rules? The football game ended at halftime while the basketball game had a timer.
It took less than a minute to Fort. Zumwalt South to basically win in the football game. It was 2-0 after 35 seconds. But scoring 21 goals in 40 minutes?
Three players accounted for 16 of those goals, meaning there weren’t a ton of substitutes. I understand that a team must train to the maximum, but that does not mean that we must continue to attack.
Union played Warrenton less than a week before the district game. Union head coach Matt Fennessey used all his healthy players, moved players to different positions and gave the reserves significant game time. Yes, the game ended 8-0, but he came on in the second half before that happened.
The use of reserves and the movement of players could be necessary in the event of an injury in the playoffs. There may also be times when a team needs to work on possession to maintain a lead.
Conversation with local coaches indicates that they would not only expect to be disciplined, but would be fired if they did something like this.
It’s a little different in basketball. You have fewer players on the court at any given time, but there are ways to avoid attacking the basket.
I heard that the Incarnate Word was “proving a point” in a disagreement with someone at Marquette. Does it make a difference? It shouldn’t.
The game was visibly well in hand. Incarnate Word has won, by my tally via MSHSAA records, its last 100 games. He hasn’t been stopped in the state playoffs since COVID-19 halted the playoffs in 2020. And, you have to go back to March 19, 2015 to find the last time he lost a playoff game. (against Owensville in the Class 4 match for third place).
It was not the first time for such a score. The Red Knights started the season with a 98-12 win over Villa Duchesne.
As in football, you can underplay and move players. You can stop trying for three-pointers. Since there is no shot clock (yet), you can pass the ball endlessly and work on running games.
There is no reason for a game to get out of control and this is a program that should know more about it. It may be the best women’s basketball team in the state, but it’s also the most hated.
There is another reason to get the wins and move on. Strange things happen when games get too out of control. All it takes is a moment of frustration for anything to happen and there’s an injury that could change a team’s entire playoff future.
Why make it a possibility? If you win, or if you know there’s a 99% chance of winning and you’re ahead, show some humility.
Act like you’ve been there before. The programs in both examples have won multiple state titles.
Scores like 105-26 and a 161-2 game in California should be massive arguments against adopting a shot clock for high school games.
However, it only seems like a matter of time before we are forced to accept this change. The NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) allowed this.
Last week, the NFHS also dropped another bombshell on high school basketball, announcing major changes to foul counting and free throw shooting.
The count will be made every quarter, instead of every half, with five being the threshold for no-shot fouls resulting in free throws.
And, one-and-bonus situations are also a thing of the past. All foul situations beyond five will be two-shot fouls.
There were other changes, such as the placement of incoming spots.
The committee that made the new foul recommendations said there were higher injury rates on rebounds and that should reduce rough play. Also, it should help the flow of the game.
The change I would like to see is for a team to get three free throw opportunities after a certain number of fouls. This would help the game flow, force teams to play defense, and reduce lingering fouls from late teams to catch up in games. It’s frantic, especially when the deficit is too big to make up.
We’ll have to see what happens with the new rule changes. Very often, high school athletes were used as guinea pigs to see if an idea would work.
Sometimes the changes work well. Other times they completely change the game (eg volleyball rally) and the way it is played.