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Opening Arguments


We've had a conversation or two here about the damage done when a commitment to self-esteem leads to playing nice instead of playing to win. But is there any point at which it is appropriate to show some mercy? Rob McGill, coach of the Christian Heritage girls baskeball team that annihilated an opponent 108-3, doesn't think so:

Yet while Christian Heritage is a clear and obvious target for criticism, Crusaders coach Rob McGill has argued that he had little choice. According to ABC 4 News out of Salt Lake City, the program had just nine players available for both the varsity and junior varsity games against West Ridge, leaving the coach with little option when considering whether to pull out his starters early in the game.

And with his starters still in the game, McGill decided it would be more disrespectful to slow the ball down and pass around the perimeter than continuing to run the team's offense.

"I have been on the other side of this equation," McGill told ABC 4. "It was very insulting when teams slowed the ball down and just passed it around. That's why I'd rather have a team play me straight up, and that's why I played them straight up. Because I didn't want to taunt them, I didn't want to embarrass them, I didn't want them to think we could do whatever we want."

I think McGill's argument is valid, up to a point. I don't know where that point is, but I think 108-3 is somewhere beyond it. If one team is clearly outclassed by another, isn't it possible to just stop the game without lessening our commitment to giving our best effort? Will the insult of slowing down the barrage really be worse than the continued humiliation of all-out effort? Here's a summary of the uses of the Mercy Rule, sometimes also called the Slaughter Rule.