Poor Sportsmanship or Great Effort?

Poor Sportsmanship or Great Effort?

I was searching the Internet for examples of poor sportsmanship and I found this video of a girl’s high school basketball team (Christian Heritage) beating their opponent (West Point Academy) by a score of 108-3.  I watched the news report and I thought it was a great debate – was this poor sportsmanship or merely a case of one team playing to their maximum capabilities to annihilate an inferior team?  Watch it first for yourself:


A little aside:  The most difficult part of this experience for me was reading the comments below the video.  People expressed their opinions in such a rude, mean and aggressive manner.  I thought this was a great story that should inspire debate as good points were made on each side.  I hope that people make respectful comments on this website and others.

Point: The principal from the winning school felt his team should not embarrass another team in such a manner.  He seemed to express that it was rude to beat another team by so many points.  Exercise restraint, good-judgement, empathy – this was his main point.

Counter Point: The coach of the winning school said that he wants his players to compete to their highest ability regardless of the ability.  He thinks it’s dishonest and awkward to tell his players not to play hard for the entire game.  He thinks that not playing “straight up” would be a greater insult to the opponent than beating them by 100 points.

Author’s Perspective:  High school athletics teaches competition, effort and teamwork. It teaches the hard lessons of losing and it teaches us how to push ourselves to get better for the next game. I also believe that high school athletics teaches us respect for the other team, sportsmanship and how to handle such moments with class and dignity. Coaches are teachers and should promote such values. If I were the coach, I would have said, “We are up by 50 points. There is no reason to pad your stats or embarrass this team any further.”  I would have put in the 3rd string.  I would have called off the full-court press.  I would have told my players to make 4 passes before taking a shot.  There is a reason that most states use a running clock when one team is up by 25 or more points in basketball or exercise the mercy rule in baseball when a team is up by 10 runs.  In the end, it is still about character, integrity and doing the right thing.  I believe the coach did the wrong thing.

Your turn:
What would you have done if you were the coach of a team that was up by 50 points at halftime?
What lessons would you want each team to learn from this experience?
How do you think the parents of the winning team and losing team feel?
If you agree with me, would you tell an athlete in an individual sport like track, wrestling or swimming to take it easy on the next race or opponent? (BTW – I would not).
If you disagree with me, how do you teach sportsmanship, respect, compassion and other essential character traits?


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  1. I wouldn’t put in my best players, but I also wouldn’t put in my worse.

    I believe that the winning team should learn that it’s great to win and all but you don’t need to smash on the other team because they are out there trying their best and losing my so much is probably making things harder on them.

    I feel like the parents of the winning team are probably pumped and happy that their kids are doing so well but the parents of the losing team is probably upset.

    I would not tell my players to take it easy. That is disrespectful to them and their talents but it is also very disrespectful to the opponent and in a way degrades them.

  2. If I were a coach and my team was up by fifty i would tell them to score if they could but to focus on passing and dribbling, etc.

    The winning team should learn that although winning feels good, its embarrassing to the team that loses by a lot. The team that lost, they should learn that some people are going to do that, but you cant give up you have to keep giving your all.

    I think that the parents of the losing team felt awful for their children who were embarrassed in front of everyone.

    I would not tell them to go easy on the opponent, if they could beat them , but I would tell them to just do what they have to do,but with team sports its very different in my opinion.

  3. I would put the players that don’t often play but aren’t the worst. Probably the ones who are close to the skill level of the other teams.

    I would want my team to learn how to be a good sport and the other team learn from my teams skills.

    Winning teams parents are probably proud but maybe bored at this point. The losing teams parents might be mad based on how the other teams parents or students are. Otherwise they are not feeling the best.

    I would not tell and individual player to go easy because it could effect their stats for college or getting better.

  4. I would love to keep my starters in as long as possible but once your up by that many points there is no reason to keep them in when there is the possibility of them getting hurt in a game that doesn’t matter therefore ruining the rest of the season for them.

  5. Like my coach says its 0-0 til the game ends I wouldn’t really get cocky i would let my starters play first half nd my scouts play the second half everyone deserves playing time