Saturday, January 24, 2009

Belles of the Bawl

I can't help but feel incredibly annoyed by the events reported in this article, concerning a high school girl's basketball team who defeated their opponents 100-0. Apparently, the team is apologizing for their victory and seeking a retroactive forfeit, worrying that they demonstrated poor sports(wo)manship by crushing the other team to the extent they did. A few details might seem pertinent to the case. First of all, both schools are private schools. Secondly, the winning school is a Christian school. Thirdly, the losing school is incredibly small—there are only 20 girls in the whole school, eight of which play on the basketball team. Fourth, the losing school has not won a game in four years. Fifth and finally, the losing school caters to students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, ADD, and the like. Perhaps these facts are not relevant, but I assume at least some of them will influence the way at least some people react to at least some aspects of what happened.

Moving on, I think much of this is ridiculous. It seems like political correctness once again run amok. Now, it may very well be that the winning team acted poorly in some way. For example, if members of the winning team intentionally derided members of the losing team, we might claim they demonstrated poor sportsmanship. But this hardly calls for a retroactive forfeiture, and it certainly doesn't justify apologizing for winning. None of that makes sense to me. What, for instance, would forfeiting accomplish? It's clear that the losing team did not stand a chance of winning. So why should the winning team forfeit? They didn't cheat. If anything, forfeiting the game seems a bit condescending. It's not much different than just handing the other team the ball and intentionally letting them win. Does that really help anybody? Who could possibly feel good about that?

Anyway, the story irked me. People tend to think I'm callous because I've always scoffed at stories where the disadvantaged are catered to in such artificial ways. For example, when people with certain disabilities (be they mental or physical) are voted homecoming king/queen or given a spot on the varsity football team. It's one thing if people in the school genuinely admire the person's perseverance and think that person deserves the recognition he/she is given. But, sadly, I think people are often just trying to prevent hurt feelings or, even worse, save face. I'm willing to bet there are people out there without any official disabilities who are just as heartbroken at being excluded from certain activities as are those who are sometimes handed the opportunities merely because of their disabilities. It's the “merely because” that irks me, and it's the “merely because” that could (and should!) offend those who are sometimes the recipients of this “generosity.”

Blah. I'm sure I could have said something more interesting about all this. I first ran into this story a few days ago and wanted to blog about it right away, but I've procrastinated. On top of that, it's late and I need to go to bed so I'm rushing through this and trying only to capture my most basic thoughts on the matter. Nonetheless, does anyone even slightly agree with me here? Is anyone sympathetic? Just remember, if you don't validate my feelings, you're not being a very politically correct person—especially now that I have a permanent limp.


  1. I completely understand your thoughts and I tend to agree with them. The only "insight" that I can bring to the matter is my experience playing school sports. It was generally considered very bad form that once a team is winning by a considerable amount that they continue to run up the score. On the other hand I agree with you that a forfeiture is ridiculous, it mars everything that the loosing team was trying to accomplish and I know that if I was on that team, it would just tick me off.

  2. This is very interesting because this afternoon in Relief Society we discussed this very thing in the guise of "being fair." Several of the sisters thought it was a charitable and virtuous gesture. [the subject of the day was "Virtue" and part of that is developing "Fairness."] They seemed to agree that to forfeit the game was the FAIR and therefore Right thing to do. Hmmmm...

    On the other hand, our next-door-neighbors lost their fairly young son to a heart attack last week. After reviewing in my mind, and maybe my heart, it's difficult to tell for sure,... I have several "bones to pick" with these people and I did not go to the funeral. I did help provide the luncheon, but that was as a fellow ward member, and had little to do with them personally. My heart was hardened. Not good, I know.

    So you've arroused an interesting set of questions here. I fully concur with how you feel about the game, but I was in agreement with the ladies at church this morning too. Well, you know me... my mind changes with every whiff from the winds of doctrine. Interesting subject and well expressed though. I feel a blog coming on, so you might check my page if you're interested.

  3. I agree with you, having a daughter that is on a basketball/volleyball/ and track team where all of the girls are deaf or hard of hearing, I wouldn't want them catered too, I want and expect them to be treated equally. Life is not going to hand these girls exceptions all their lives to make them 'feel better'. It is what it is, there isn't anything to apologize for, it teaches the one team to cater too or feel sorry for the other team for 'crushing them' and I don't believe that should be fostered and it teaches the losing team that they're somewhat inferior and not as capable, where they are just as capable, maybe not as well trained or coached or even talented... I would want my daughter to lose the games she lost, she's a better winner when she earns it.

  4. I agree!
    When I play games with Jeff... I should say against him, I sometimes get so frustrated when he doesn't let me get a hit in. He's supposed to be helping and teaching me to play. So, sometimes he goes easy enough on me I can play, but not so easy he gives it away. If he ever has given me the win, it's no fun because it doesn't mean anything.
    I also always said when I was in school, there were "B" grades I worked a lot harder for than some of the "A" grades and guess which ones I was prouder of?
    I didn't read the article, but from what you said it sounds a bit self righteous.

  5. "Ahhhh! Forfeitures! My undoing!" - Strawson

    (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)


  6. I agree with you whole heartedly. Pity is not a kind emotion. It is saying that you are too insignifigant to be treated as a full human being. It is not compassion, where one feels anger and remorse at anothers compromised dignity. The truly compassionate would never pity, never find someone pathetic, I think, which is not to say I never do. Hate me, vex me, but never pity me.

  7. I like your point! Simply said!