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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments


Here's a good, debatable issue that doesn't involve terrorists, illegal immigrants, the federal government or religion, so let's go for it as a change of pace. Illinois and 31 other states have a "mercy rule" for high school football. Whenever the point differential in a game reaches a certain point (when a blowout is clearly in the making), a "running clock" is employed for the rest of the game, to be stoped only for timeouts, change of possession or emergency situations. The idea is to just get the game over as quickly as possible to minimize the humiliation of the losing team.

Indiana isn't one of those states, so it takes a game between a team from here and a team from another state, say Illinois, the point out the different approaches.

It only took that long to see just exactly how dominant Marshall was going to be against Edwards County, a point the homestanding Lions proved emphatically with a 55-16 victory over the visiting Lions.

[. . .]

Though a 55-16 outcome is nothing to sneeze at, it could have been far, far worse. Had Marshall and Edwards County been playing on the Indiana side of the border, for example, one could theoretically have seen a final score along the lines of 86-0. Or worse.

[. . .]

Mismatches are part of the game, but in high school football, they can and should be managed.

[. . .]

These are high school players. Perspective alone dictates that they shouldn't get put through a meat grinder if it can be avoided. There's virtually nothing good that can come from stretching out a blowout, but there's plenty of bad, the worst being avoidable injuries to players from both the winning and losing teams that can and do occur.

I've mostly been in the "let the kids compete so they learn what real life is like" camp. Out of school, they're going to face winning and losing situations, and they will have to deal with both. And knowing that some coaches will show a little grace in a blowout and others will rub it in mercilessly is a valuable lesson, too.

But mercy is a part of life, too. And learning in high school you can be given it occasionally might make you more inclined to show it, so maybe the running-clock rule is more civilized.

Posted in: Hoosier lore, Sports


tim zank
Wed, 09/01/2010 - 1:52pm

Seems like a natural progression to keep the "everybody's a winner" mantra moving along.

Should only take one more generation to completely suck the competetive nature out of everyone, both academically and athletically.

What the hell, give everybody a trophy too.

Lewis Allen
Wed, 09/01/2010 - 7:34pm

A little perspective is called for here. The rule change wouldn't allow the losing team to win. It will still be clear who the winner is. There are practical considerations, as well, like minimizing the time the parents, coaches, and officials have to spend on what is clearly a foregone conclusion.