have mercy rule high school coach fired for winning

When was the last time you heard of a shutout in basketball? Well, it happened. In the wake of a 100-0 blowout in a girls' private school basketball game in Texas, many are questioning whether the winning team went too far in continuing to press despite...

When was the last time you heard of a shutout in basketball? Well, it happened.

In the wake of a 100-0 blowout in a girls’ private school basketball game in Texas, many are questioning whether the winning team went too far in continuing to press despite their humongous lead—especially those betting against the 99-points spread. (OK, I made up that last part.)

The game was between the Covenant School and Dallas Academy, which hasn’t won a game in four seasons.

“I think the bad judgment was in the full-court press and the three-point shots,” said a parent of a Dallas Academy player, in a post game interview with the American Press. “At some point, they should have backed off.”

Yes, and at halftime the two teams should have braided each other’s hair. Then they could have switched jerseys and played for each other’s team to even the score. And if that didn’t work, the winning team could have worn shackles or boxing gloves.

Apparently for over-motivating his team, Micah Grimes, the coach of the winning Covenant School, has been fired, sending the message to all the school’s athletes: try to win, but don’t over do it.

If a team chooses to lighten up, that’s their choice. But it shouldn’t be their responsibility to do so.

We’ve all seen hockey games in which a team takes a sizable lead and then “sits” on it. That’s not necessarily to be nice or honourable, but is a strategy to insure the win.

All those parents and officials in a tizzy because of the outcome shouldn’t be pointing their finger at Grimes, but at the sports organization. If the league features such hugely lopsided teams, there should be a mercy rule. After all, if a team stops trying to win or the other quits, the true outcome of the game is thrown into doubt anyway.

One common basketball mercy rule I’ve seen firsthand covering high school sports in Hawaii consists of commencing a running-clock once a team goes up by 30 points.

Even slo-pitch softball here in the Yukon has a mercy rule that calls for the truncation of a game once a team reaches a 12-run lead by the fifth inning.

But getting back to the 100-point humiliation, this is high school we’re talking about, not preschool. And sports are about competition, not charity.

These are the years people learn the vital grin-and-bear-it life skill.

However, players on the Dallas Academy team aren’t getting too much help in this area: the team’s coach has already forfeited their next game against Covenant School. Great message, coach—if you can’t win, don’t compete.

Admittedly, high school is also the perfect age level for kids to learn valuable life-lessons, such as the socially beneficial act of taking mercy on others. But having your face pushed into the mud is a fairly good life lesson too—especially for those wanting to drop out and begin a career in mud wrestling. There’s not nearly enough mercy, altruism and charity in the world, and high school is a good time to learn that.

Since the game (or should I say, since news of it reached papers?), not only was the head coach fired, but the school is now appealing to the league to turn their win into a loss.

I’m sure this is exactly how Dallas Academy wanted to get their first win in four seasons.

I can almost see the apology card now. “Sorry we creamed you to the point that it made nationwide headlines. Here, have the win, you need it more than we do. P.S. Next time, we’ll let you get a basket.”

It boils down to this: we can’t always rely on players to put on velvet gloves when playing an inferior team, but we can rely on a mercy rule to mitigate a blowout.

Contact Tom Patrick at


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