Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Reaction to football game raises concerns
Texas has a burning passion for football. During the season, every Friday night sees stadiums fill with fans cheering on their home teams as players battle for a chance to go to the playoffs and win the state championship.
But as in any sport, there are games in which the opponents are not evenly matched. This happened to football powerhouse Aledo High School when it played Western Hills High School earlier this season. Aledo won 91-0 even though coach Tim Buchanan chose to bench his starters after only 21 plays and allowed the clock to run continuously after halftime. After the game, a parent from Western Hills filed a bullying complaint saying Aledo should have done more to prevent the lopsided victory.
This story raises some serious concerns. First, it is clear that the Aledo coach took action to try to limit the scoring in this game. The truth is, these teams were unevenly matched. Both teams are made up of players who have been taught through long hours of training in the heat of summer to keep pushing forward and always play their best. It is unreasonable and unfair to the players of either team to tell them that they cannot play their best out of pity for their opponents. Both teams walk onto the field every Friday night knowing there will be wins and losses. How the players, coaches and fans handle those wins and losses is just as important as the game itself.
This was an opportunity for an important lesson on that field. It is a tough lesson, but eventually, everyone learns the reality that life is not an endless string of victories. Eventually, a person will face defeat, and it is how he or she responds to that defeat that determines the person's character. But instead of grasping this lesson and passing it on to the team, one parent chose to claim the team was bullied. What do parents teach their children when they choose to point fingers at others instead of promote good sportsmanship and teach inner strength and respect in the face of adversity? It teaches players that it is OK to accept pity, and when a person fails, it is the winner's fault.
During this game, the Aledo coach did everything he could legally do to end the game quickly, short of asking the opposing team to forfeit. This raises the possibility of creating a mercy rule for 11-man football in Texas. The UIL has a mercy rule for six-man football to end a game if one team is ahead by 45 points at halftime or later. It is time to look into creating a similar rule for 11-man football. That way, teams caught in situations like these will have an option to stop the game before it reaches this point. In addition, the UIL and districts should re-examine football matches to even out the playing field. A game this unevenly matched does little to no good for anyone.
Football is an important part of the Texas high school culture. But part of playing the game is learning how to win and lose with dignity. We hope players, coaches, parents and fans will all keep this in mind as the season continues. Each game ends with a winner and a loser. Let the players play.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.