Winning Isn't Everything... Keeping Score Is.

By: Jason Colthorp
By: Jason Colthorp

Today's kids are not prepared for today's world.

Last night in the newsroom there was a fierce debate surrounding a high school basketball game in Utah.  One girls team beat the other 108-3.

That's a 105-point difference in case you didn't catch that.

Part of the staff thought it was up to the team of at-risk kids that scored 3 points to prevent that kind of rout.  I argued that as coach of the other team you do anything and everything to prevent a score like that-- even just passing the ball, playing keep-away essentially.

Jeff: "You don't think playing keep away demeans that other team?"
Me: "You don't think they're being demeaned and humiliated getting beaten 100-3?"
Jeff: "So, they're throwing the ball around and these kids are frantically trying to get it away to no avail?"

This argument went on and on until all involved agreed that the coach should have emptied the bench and done everything to not run up the score-- but you still run your offense and take open shhots.  I started wondering where sportsmanship ends and the learning you get from getting whipped starts.

I thought more about it this morning thinking about Rick Comley "retiring."  I heard the AD say it was "a mutual decision" which tells me Coach Comley was pretty much forced to go.  I said to Tim Staudt off the air last night-- "I guess a national championship just doesn't buy you what it used to."

Comley won a national championship 3 seasons ago.  Three.  And it's college hockey-- not football where you depend on supporting the entire athletic department, not basketball which is a marquee money-maker-- but hockey.  Sure there's tradition to uphold, but you're pushing a guy out who's won 3 titles and is the fourth-winningest coach in college hockey history.

The message is clear-- you better win.

In his State of the Union, President Obama talked about our kids competing in tomorrow's world against China and other countries that are beating us in preparing them for those jobs.  He talked about education and kids and getting them ready.  But are our kids ready for the real world?  Will they be?

They play baseball games where no score is kept because we don't want to declare a winner and a loser.  (Don't tell the organizers that the kids keep score themselves, though).  They can't play dodgeball because it's been outlawed in America because it humiliates kids that aren't good enough.  Activities have taken over for competitive games in gym classes around the country so noone gets hurt feelings.  Hope the kids like indoor rock climbing.

But when they graduate they're going to learn pretty fast that if you don't win enough hockey games-- you're gone.  If you don't win the ratings for your TV station-- you're busted back to reporter.  If you don't bring in enough clients-- you're fired.  If you don't bring your department in under budget and on time-- you're history.  Sorry, no second chances, no "take as much time as you need to get it right," and no "good try, but the important thing is to have fun."

You can learn a lot from winning AND losing, but you can't learn much if you don't keep score, and you're always safe-- even when you're out.  Don't get me wrong-- I believe whole-heartedly in sportsmanship and having mercy on another team.  But maybe losing 108-3 isn't  so bad. 

What do you think?

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