The New Blowout Mentality


Over the course of the last five years where I have attended over 500 high school, and youth sports games and practices and a disturbing trend has emerged. Teams, coaches, parents, and players, have gone far away from sportsmanship and fair competition to clobbering an opponent.


 In a bizarre way it seemed, in most of these games, that there is little if any pleasure derived from these victories or defeats. There seems to mostly angst for the victorious team.


On many occasions I have stood near the exit where players, coaches and referees leave the playing field or court. I have heard some of the most incredible comments emanating from the participants in the days contest.


“They sucked what a waste of time.”  “We could have beaten them by more if we wanted.” “”The officials lost control of the game.” “The other coach didn’t have his team under control.” “They sucked, that is why they were so dirty.”


 When I asked a coach why he didn’t substitute early his response was chilling “What did the other team came back and made it close?


What? Wait a minute. Isn’t the whole point of playing a game with an opponent, the competition? Isn’t having fun and learning about positive pressure a direct result of this fair and even competition? Shouldn’t we as coaches strive to keep the games closer when blowouts occur?


Nothing good happens on either side of the ball when blowouts occur. Injuries can come about as the team that is losing tries to enact revenge for being beaten up. Kids sitting on the bench needlessly lose interest and eventually, for 70% of hem, quit playing sports.


Isn’t there some kind of we are all in this together, and this is only a game   missing in this paradigm that would bring reason and logic to the debate? How about some compassion and class?


 If you use Science, Psychology, and data, you will find that not only does neither team benefit from this keep winning, but in actuality, both teams lose. The winning team learns bad habits that are reinforced by scores.


 The losing team feels pounded needlessly and looks to enact some sort of retribution, during the game, or in the future. They may be on the other side with another team so they feel it is quite all right to run up the score.  Hey, it was done to me so I can do it to someone else.


Only a few times in all the games I went to and covered was there any indication of compassion towards the opponent. Hey, I am all for playing hard and trying to win in a team concept. But time after time, I saw starters padding their stats. Coaches,’ standing on the sidelines, purposely running up the score for their own ego and status, all the while allowing children on their team to sit and watch instead of getting to play.


 They were coaching their butts off with the game completely won, like it was the Super Bowl or the seventh game of the NBA playoffs. Parents complaining that their child didn’t get enough playing time or that the other team was so bad that they didn’t deserve to be on the field or court with their kids.


I watched the losing coaches refuse to put in their substitutes because they did not want to see their scores in the newspaper or on television the next day so lopsided. Maybe, their thought process was, if they kept their starters in longer they would keep the score closer at the expense of the team concept.


 Coaches yelling at the officials up 20 points with two minutes to go in the game because they saw a DI coach or Professional coach do the same. (NOTE: There is no connection between high school and youth sports with DI and the pros)


I mean really, what was accomplished during that game? Is this the example we want to set for our kids? Is the behavior we want modeled?


I watched parents complain to one another that, even with a big lead, their kid should not have been taken out. Other parents complained that their child only got a couple meaningless minutes at the end of the game and was embarrassed.


Why not sub early and often, keep it close, make it more fun and competitive?

It’s not about the coaches or the parents. It’s about the kids having fun, learning life lessons, and competing, fairly, and with sportsmanship.