It Might Hurt Their Self-Esteem
I've coached Little League baseball and, for the last two years, have assisted the girl's basketball program where I teach. Nothing in youth sports bothers me more than teams that run-up the score.
There was one game as a Little League coach that my team lost 24-3. Yes, we were that bad and they were that good. But I didn't feel that they were running up the score. They didn't steal bases; they didn't hit and run; they didn't go out of their way to force in those 24 runs. It just happened.
But there was one game as a Little League coach that my team lost 22-5. I felt that this team ran up the score. They were stealing bases, dancing around as they took their leads; they were employing the hit and run; the did go out of their way to force in those 22 runs. It shoudn't have happened.
In youth atheletics, it is important to stress sportsmanship while understanding that some teams are just that much better. In Connecticut, the high school athletic association has adopted a sportsmanship policy for football games that suspends coaches from running up the score. The policy "will suspend coaches whose teams win by more than 50 points."
Here's the question. If a team is winning a game by 48 points and they recover a fumbled ball two yards away from scoring another touchdown, do we really expect that player, a competitive teenager, to fall on it without trying to score? And if he does just fall on it, do we really want our athletes to then not try and score again? Think about. Number 25 for the recovering team is a senior who doesn't play much more than two or three plays a game. He has the opportunity to score the only touchdown of his high school career. But in the interest of the other team's self-esteem, the coach cannot allow that kid to score the touchdown?
Again, I am all for sportsmanship. But we should not be teaching our athletes to not play the way they should, under any other circumstance, play their respective sport.