Routs out in Connecticut

Winning by more than 50 points could lead to suspension for high school football coaches in Connecticut. What to do when your team is creaming the opposition? Play on, write Volokh Conspiracy and Laissez Faire Books blog. It’s better for the losers’ self-esteem to lose big than to be protected from competition.

I can testify from the Highland Park High homecoming game against Evanston High my freshman year: Sometimes, they put in the subs and it doesn’t help.

There’s a chapter in my book, Our School, about the character-building effects of getting clobbered in sports week after week and coming back for more. I just ran into one of the students in that chapter, Neary, at Downtown College Prep, which is holding its third graduation tomorrow night. She’s just finished her freshman year at Cal Poly and was visiting her old school.

About Joanne


  1. Some of the junior baseball leagues I have seen have a “ten run rule”, which means that if an inning finishes with one team 10 or more runs ahead, the game ends. This doesn’t seem to cause a problem, although the analogy here would be that the game ends after any play on which one team was 50 or more points ahead.

  2. Were I coaching a team that was leading by such a wide margin, I would leave the first-string players in and tell them to just stand there, do nothing and let the other team score until the difference was under 50 points. Then go back to playing for real. If the lead goes over 50, back to standing around.

    The policy is that good players are not allowed to play to the best of their ability — so follow the policy exactly. Don’t sugar-coat it, don’t disguise the impact, and don’t pretend that it’s anything other than what it is.

  3. Foobarista says:

    The irony is that I could well see this causing injuries to both teams. What are you supposed to do? Stand around, not throw blocks, purposely fumble after an interception or a fumble recovery?

    The only safe thing: after you score your 50, line up your team but your kicker at the endzone and have them all run off the field immediately after the kickoff. They score, they kick off to you, and you run your kneel-down offense for the rest of the game.

  4. I like Kyle’s idea.

  5. I don’t.

    There are people who are better then you at anything you’d care to name. It’s worth coming to terms with that fact, to learn and understand it, and a school is where learning is supposed to occur.

    A school in which no one loses is a school that doesn’t have much regard for the real world where people lose all the time. It takes an effort of will to ignore the obvious truth that some people are more able then others so the loser, along with any kids that buy into this silly philosophy, is the school.

    Insistence on the truth of something so self-evidently false undercuts the credibility of everything the school is offering, like an education.

  6. superdestroyer says:

    I wonder how much the running up of scores has to do with recruiting of talented students. In many states, students can transfer schools but keeping playing varsity sports. Thus, some coaches have made a career of recruiting the best athletes in a geographic area. If you blow everyone else out, then the best players will want to come to your school.

    Since the rule has been tied to a specific coach, there is probably several agenda involved. A coach who runs up scores like that usually knows that the other schools have little chance at revenge.

  7. Allen, Kyle’s suggestion allows everyone to see that some people are better than others–while at the same time completely mocking this stupid rule. My support of his suggestion came with the implicit cavaet that the rule was being implemented, even though I think it’s a stupid rule.

  8. Oh, I understand Kyles suggestion, I’m just not impressed with it.

    It seems entirely too juvenile and self-centered to be anything other then an elaborate temper tantrum and if I were a parent I’d want the coach’s head on a platter for organizing something like that.

    It’s the sort of “solution” I’d expect from a student or an escapee from the sixties. If you can’t do something substantive, do something loud. Do something, anything, to divert yourself from the realisation that you’re essentially powerless.

    But that’s not even the worst aspect of the idea. The worst thing about it is that the people who ought to be kicking up a fuss, who have some hope of reversing the policy, aren’t involved. That would be parents because they’re the adults who’ve given over their children to these other adults to educate.

    Get a dozen or twenty parents lighting up a school board meeting with complaints and you’re far more likely to get a favorable resolution. The petty tyrant who dreamed up this policy did so in the fond hope that their nobility would fall as the gentle rain on the students, ennobling them and padding out the petty tyrant’s CV with some multi-cultural brownie points without drawing an unhappy response.

    What our petty tyrant doesn’t want to do is to have too justify the policy to people over whom the tyrant has no control so that’s the position to put the petty tyrant in.

  9. Allen, I agree that ultimately getting this policy repealed will require pressure from parents (or, more broadly, the public at large). My statement was specifically about what I think the *coach* should do. As you say, the idiots who imposed this policy aren’t looking for controversy; given that, the goal of the coach should be precisely to *create* controversy stemming from the rule. And I think vicious compliance with the letter of the rule, making clear exactly what its true nature is, would be a very effective method of ginning up the necessary outrage.

  10. Oh, I understand perfectly what the intent of your suggestion is, I just think the coach is the wrong person to expect to execute it and so are the players.

    Both the coach and the players live in the administrator’s house, as it were. Both are vulnerable to retaliation that would be hard to fight. So why put the people who are most vulnerable at risk when people who are all but invulnerable to the bureaucrat in question, are available and probably interested?