How far is too far?

Each and everyone of us whether it was on a wood floor, a sheet of ice, a grass field, or a slab of concrete still has a love for whichever sport we grew up playing. Over the past two months, something interesting has caught my eye on the athletic playing field. A professional basketball player drops 81 points, a women’s hockey team scores 16 goals in a shutout, and a high school athlete scores a record breaking 113 points. I will also show my own personal experiences playing high school hockey in New Jersey. One highly debatable question remains: How much scoring do we allow before a coach/team/player should be held accountable for it?As the majority of us grew up playing a specific sport, we are all taught by our coaches/parents the important aspects of the game. Not only do we in fact learn the fundamentals to thrive in game situations, but at the end of the day we realize we particpate in order to receive some form of fun/enjoyment from it all. Recently I was able to witness on a professional, collegiate, and high school level many contests which in fact were amazing as far as individual talent goes.

Case 1- Trailing by 18 points, the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant seemed left for dead in their contest against the Toronto Raptors on 1/22/2006. To say Kobe Bryant went on a scoring rampage wouldn’t necessarily describe the Superstar’s night. The man was simply unconscious, as he would drop 81 points onto the Raptors in order to propel his team to a 122-104 victory. After the game, Phil Jackson was asked by a reporter whether or not he should have taken Kobe Bryant out. Jackson for the most part responded by saying it would be disservice, as Bryant would become the 2nd player in history to break the 80 point barrier.

Case 2- Women’s Canadian Hockey team went on a rampage by routing the Italians, 16-0. Canada(both Men’s and Women’s) is the heavy favorite to take home the goal this year during their respective tournaments. It is pretty safe to say that for the Women’s side, that the United States and Canada seem light years ahead of the other nations in the world.*Insert USA Men’s Hockey joke here*. A few days after the drubbing of Italy, an American hockey player went on record to say how ridiculous it was for Canada to run up the score like that.

Case 3-Epiphany Prince, a senior at Bergtraum HS here in New York City, is currently set to embark on a full scholarship to Rutgers University(NJ). Prince, who is considered by many to be the top prospect in the country, would score 58 points in the first 16 minutes against Brandeis HS. Prince would then go onto break the record for total points in a game(recently held by Cheryl Miller with 105pts) as she would go onto score 113 points. Bergtraum would defeat Brandeis HS by a final score of 137-32.

Case 4- Another interesting situation occured last season in the state of New Jersey. On their final game of their season, the Morris Knolls Golden Eagles faced off against the Jefferson Falcons. Before the final game, Morris Knolls trailed their division leader by a goal differential of 13 as both teams split their only two meetings of the season. Morris Knolls, who would go onto win a state title and are currently ranked #5 in the state of NJ, would go onto drub the Falcons by a score of 15-1. By scoring 14 goals, the Eagles were given the 1st overall seed in their conference tournament.

My take: First off, I find all of these cases to be pretty incredible given the cir*****stances at hand. The majority of the newspapers in the NY/NJ/CT area would comment and quickly debate whether or not each of these coaches in fact should have held back their scorers. Each situation, which has occurred at the professional, amateur and high school levels clearly shows a superior amount of talent taking advantage of teams lacking their own talent.

I have played ice hockey since I was 4-year old, and I can say that I have been on both ends of the scoreboard. As a young child in grammar school, it certainly was not fun losing to a team 12-2 but sure as hell felt good for being the victors on that day.

Given the four situations above, I do not have any problem whatsoever with the outcomes of the games. If any of these situations had occured as a level such as a preschool, grammar school or middle school level, I would have to question the motives of the coach. The younger we are, the more important it is to learn the values of the game. At such high levels whether it is professional, amateur, or high school, the athletes did what they had to do making the ultimate achievements in their respective sports.

We are all entitled to our own opinions, but who should garner any form of the blame for these outcomes? Is it the responsibility of the winning coach to pull his starters and clear his bench? Is it the irresponsibility of the losing coach as he did not properly prepare his team for the game? Could it possibly be ego-driven athletes trying to pad their own stats for personal accomplishments? I’ll let you decide…

-RangerSteve