These days in Connecticut, your high school football team can’t be too excellent:
High school football coaches in Connecticut will have to be good sports this fall — or risk suspension.
The football committee of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports, is adopting a “score management” policy that will suspend coaches whose teams win by more than 50 points.
A rout is considered an unsportsmanlike infraction and the coach of the offending team will be disqualified from coaching the next game, said Tony Mosa, assistant executive director of the Cheshire-based conference.
“We were concerned with any coach running up the game. There’s no need for it,” Mosa said Wednesday. “There were a number of games that were played where the difference of scores were 60 points or more. It’s not focused on any one particular person.”
Some states, including Iowa, continuously run the game clock in the second half if a team has a 35-point lead. The Connecticut committee rejected a similar proposal because members thought it would unfairly cut into backups’ playing time.
I remember a blowout football game between Brigham Young University and the University of New Mexico in which BYU won with a final score of 65-0. By the new Connecticut rules, BYU football coach Lavell Edwards would have been suspended from the next game because allowing a score to get that high is obviously unsportsmanlike. But I was at that game, and I saw that Edwards wasn’t just driving up the score. I watched as he put his 2nd and 3rd string players into the game, and they still scored against New Mexico. Football is a competitive sport, and in competitive sports, there are winners and losers. And part of playing is learning how to handle both a really high-scoring win and a devastating loss.
But not everyone wants kids to experience winning or losing. Non-scoring games are an attempt to teach kids to enjoy playing without the stress of victory or defeat, but the kids keep score anyway. If you don’t like the competitive nature of some sports, how about taking advantage of non-competitive ones?
All this brouhaha reminds me of the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. In this not-too-future world, everyone is finally equal because those with more than average intelligence, beauty, or skills are handicapped to bring them down to the lowest common denominator. This handicapping is overseen by the Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers. After all, the reasoning goes, we can’t hurt the feelings of people who don’t excel by having them compete with others who are better than they. Equality of outcome is the law supreme, and a successful race is one where everyone crosses the finish line at the exact same time.
But I have long disliked the idea of equality of outcome and its result of universal mediocrity.