A recent 13-0 game caused a bit of a controversy.
Now, that could be the score from a close, low-scoring NFL game.
But the problem arose because that was the final score from the other kind of football, soccer.
In soccer, that is a blowout of massive proportions. In American football, that is pretty equivalent to something like 73-0.
That was the final score of the 1940 NFL Championship game when the Chicago Bears crushed the Washington Redskins.
That 13-0 score was the final tally of the United States victory over Thailand in the opening round of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The blowout raised several questions about sports ethics. Many say running up the score is poor sportsmanship.
Others counter that it is disrespectful to the opponent to not give your best all game long.
To me, it depends on the level of the competition and age of the participants.
My tolerance for blowouts increases as the level of completion increases.
The World Cup is perhaps the pinnacle of international competition. So I have zero problems with the 13-0 final score.
Thailand probably had no business being in World Cup, but they qualified, so they knew what they were getting into.
Likewise, in the professional ranks, anything goes.
Professional teams operate under the same rules and same roster limits. They all pretty much have the same access to the player talent pool.
They can choose to spend, or not spend, whatever they want on coaches, scouts, trainers, facilities, etc.
It gets murkier on the high school level.
On Saturday mornings, I’ll check the football scores from the night before, and for all the 21-14 games, you’ll see several in the neighborhood of 48-0 or 56-7.
Most of that comes down to numbers, as small schools with few players and limited resources often struggle to compete.
Same thing with basketball. It is not really a level playing field.
The Arkansas Activities Association adopted a “mercy rule” several years ago where once a team gets ahead by a certain amount, the clock runs continuously so that the game ends more quickly.
The local Boys and Girls Club basketball is an all-comers league, meaning they take any and every kid who signs up to play.
As you would expect, there are often large gaps in skill level. Blowouts happen.
Given the disparity of talent, it can sometimes be hard for the score to not get out of hand. But there are things a coach can do to lessen it.
They can stop pressing. They can slow it down, stop running and gunning. They can use the opportunity to play kids in different positions.
As a coach and a parent, I’ve been on both sides of blowouts. Honestly, neither is fun.
It’s pretty easy to tell when a coach is running it up on purpose.
I can’t put in a family newspaper what I would really like to say to a few of them.
So I’ll just say this. If you are a youth coach and enjoy running up the score, then I would kindly suggest that you reevaluate your priorities.