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…


24 Responses to How far is too far?

  1. leafs_r_a_joke says:

    I dont see anything wrong with wanting to be the best.

  2. Neely4Life says:

    if u know they can beat u on any other given day, u pound away until they cry.

    if its a team u know has no shot in hell, just keep it respectable.

    Example. Sabers/Sens they were winning 5-0 one night, ended up winning 10-4, did they run up the score, a bit, but the Sabers can beat the sens on n e given night, keep them out of the game, and give them no hope.

    Canada/Italy (women) take it easy, they arnt gonna beat u if they played the rest of the game 5 on 3. keep it respectable.

  3. marcs797 says:

    dont get me wrong, i think its not good to win 16-0

    but the tiebraker in the olympics is goal differencial.

    so canada and US go 4-0 say in prelims

    usa wins by a lot all of there games, steady 8-0 wins say. canada blows out italy and beats other teams respectively 4-0 say.

    USA gets higher seed then canada.

    im not saying thats gonna happen, but in a tourney like the olympics, why risk it. it also sends a message to the other teams out there.

  4. Neely4Life says:

    i knew that was coming, but what about russia, they knew they pretty much had it in control after the US’s frist game, they could have taken it easy there too.

    And there is really no other team to sens a message to beside the US.

    there a bunch of ways u can look at it.

  5. wingerxxx says:

    I can totally understand why people are outraged at results like 16-0, or when someone pours in 113 points in a basketball game.

    But there is a problem with calling these winning players and teams “unsportsmanlike.”

    When you are in Olympic competition, it is going to be VERY hard to tell your players to reign themselves in, during play. These players have been training years to go all-out, and play their hardest. Sometimes, that’s going to result in ugly scores. And what are they supposed to do in the end, if they are up 15-0? Start skating in circles, in order to not cycle the puck deep in the opponents’ end? Turn the puck over at every opportunity? To me, that is insulting. Not scoring goals. When you play hard against your opponents, that is showing them respect. Not playing pattycake against them, and trying not to score.

  6. Laus723 says:

    does seem like there should be a mercy rule when your getting stomped that hard and the score winds up at 16-0, but there’s not (i didn’t see how long the 3rd or 4th lines were out there, imo, if they stomp on ya, you deserve it, lol).

    the issue i have is with kobe’s 81, all that shows in his department is exactly what he is, a selfish, whiny little a-hole! he does nothing to help those around him and he always looks like he’s putting on a show, i don’t like him at all! how do you chase out Shaq? because youre nothing more than selfish punk, and its all about him! that’s why i don’t like Michael Vick, Nieminen, Terrell Owens, etc., those guys do nothing to help teammates!

  7. UWSensFan says:

    I’d actually take it a step further with the Olympic tournament. If they were to put a limit on the goal differential in a game (let’s say 10…a number I pulled out of my a$$). That way, a game could end 9-7, 10-0, 17-7, whatever. It allows teams with the talent to get goals and still have a mercy rule. Ultimately, it’s the tiebreaker that’s to blame, not the players (my opinion).

    A great example is the following: I’m in a volleyball league. I joined with a bunch of friends that are a lot less talented than me, and as such, we’re in a beginner league. This league is well below my capabilities, but whatever, it’s for fun. The one rule that I really like (even though it often burns me) is that there’s a 5 serve mercy rule. It’s appropriate, because it allows other people a chance to play.

  8. UWSensFan says:

    Well, I’m going to analyze each one and give my opinion on each:

    1- I don’t follow basketball, but whatever. It’s pro sports and he’s allowed to do whatever it is he wants (that his coach let him). One angle is to say the following: They were trailing by 18 and the Jackson did whatever he had to to pull out a win. Hey, you never know…another team could beat the Lakers with a player scoring 90…I wouldn’t care.

    2- It’s the way the tournament is organized, and I blame the tiebreaker method. This is the Olympics, and all teams want to win gold. Every team wants home ice advantage for the gold medal game. Team Canada just did what they though they’d need to get there.

    3- This one actually bothers me. Look at the score. Look at the number of points one player got. They were going to win anyways (the score really does tell it all), so why run it up THAT badly? Did it affect their standings? If it did, well, then I retract the statement of it bothering me. There’s no reason to do this unless you actually need the win by such a large margin.

    4- No problem. They were evenly matched going in (assumption => they did split the two previous meetings) and one team needed to score 14 more goals to make the tiebreaker tilt in their favour. I’ve been on the losing end like this. It sucks, but hey, it happens (ok, so we didn’t lose that badly, but we lost pretty bad).

    My take:

    I totally agree with your comments about it being a LOT more important to not do this at a younger age. The sports I was involved in had mercy rules in place just in case such a thing did happen. I don’t blame coaches. Their job is to make sure the team has the best chances in the present and future. If the Canadian women had stopped playing, I think the Italians would have felt worse. I watched that game, and the fans knew they didn’t stand a chance in Hell of beating Canada…the fans cheered whenever they got a shot, got the puck out of their zone, or their goalie made a save. That’s the kind of game it was. They knew beforehand that it’d be a rout. The one thing I felt to be poor was the goal celebrating when players were on the ice and looked to be injured. Sure, you scored a goal, but someone is hurt. That’s a little more important in my books.

  9. Flyer_Dman says:

    The Canadian women and the basketball chick are the only two examples of unsportsmanlike behavior.

    18 points is like a 3 goal lead in hockey. If an NHL player has 5 goals in a 5-2 game they are not going to take him out. I hate Kobe, but this was fine.

    The other hockey example is totally justified. First of all, they are divisional foes, so you obviously want to beat down their spirits as much as possible, especially if the two teams are ranked 1 and 2. And on top of that, it makes them move into first place…therefore totally justifiable.

  10. UWSensFan says:

    Just out of curiosity, why do you think the Canadian women’s 16-0 victory is unsportsmanlike? I totally agree with the basketball scolarship winner being unsportsmanlike, but with the way the IIHF breaks ties, it’s really the only way to guarantee home ice in the finals. With the US playing after Canada in two of the three preliminary games, they had to make sure they’d have a better differential. This is compounded with Canada playing its easiest opponent in the first game, the only time they played after the US.

    The other main argument one can make about it is this:

    There are two powers in women’s hockey: Canada and the US. They are ranked 1-2 (for good reason). Pretty much all the other teams are even (well, maybe not the Italians, but they just don’t have the program to be competitive at this level), so the only way to guarantee home ice is to start strong, leave the pedal to the floor, and do everything you can against every team you play.

    The third angle is this:

    Take the following hypothetical situation:

    The Flyers (I’m assuming that’s your team due to your name) are the worst team in the NHL. They probably wouldn’t be better than 50% in the AHL. Rough, yes. Possible, highly unlikely, but bear with me. You’re at a game, and you know they have no chance in hell of winning (i.e. even if the first two lines of the opposite team had food poisoning on game day, they’d still win the game). Would you rather have the other team run the score to 5-0 (a number I’m pulling out of my ass) in the first 10 minutes of the first, then just cycle the puck and do nothing for the last 50 minutes of the game? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I’d find it insulting that they decided that the game wasn’t worth playing anymore. And that’s the real point. The Italian fans at the arena were still cheering, even though the score was as one-sided as it was. They found things to cheer for: getting the puck out of the zone (even if it was iced), the goalie making a nice save (and she made a bunch of beauties) and every shot on goal the crowd was alive. The fans didn’t seem to mind it all that much, and they’re the ones PAYING to see the games.

  11. gg_idiot says:

    I imagine about 95% of you *****ing are Americans. Cry more please.

  12. WelcomeBackHockey says:

    I’ve been on both sides of the scoreboard. I only play in house hockey leagues now and occassionally do a tournament here and there. Some guys just have no mercy on helpless teams. I never saw the fun in beating a team by 12 goals and taking pride in it. If any of my teams start putting the nail in the coffin really early, I tend to ease up and let the guys the who dont skate as much get the playing time. At that point just try to work on new things, shake up some lines, etc etc. Besides, there’s a lot of punks out there who have the mentality to say “F**k it! We’re down by 9 so I’m taking someone out!”. Next thing you know you just took a cheap shot or hit from behind.

  13. tmeyers says:

    I had a similiar situation a couple of years back. I was playing in a NAHH Tourney and we were way short of guys. As a matter of fact, we had 6 guys not including our goalie. Well, half way through the second period it was 12-0 and we were being spanked by a well stocked team. The other team was laughing and joking and jokingly apologized for running up the score. They said they needed th GF to take 1 in the tourney. So at the start of the 3rd period, it was decided that we would not return to the ice and forfeit the game.

    Meaning: we only lost 1-0 and they did not get the GF’s. The joke was on them and they were pissed.

  14. Kraftster says:

    Wait, so what exactly is the point of “teaching” the sportsmanship at a younger age if when you are older you are just going to disregard it. Doesn’t it mean if its happening in higher levels that the lower levels failed if their task is to teach it?

    The Kobe game involved no sort of unsportsmanship. You noted the score, and earlier in the year Jackson did take Kobe out in a similar cir*****stance (though the lead was far more for LA) and he really heard about it.

    The Canadian womens team said that if goal differential didn’t matter they would have stopped the onslaught. Give me a break. Professional sports are different as their primary purpose when it comes down to it is entertainment. The Olympics are more about the true sport and the sportsmanship than any other avenue to play sports. This team has been disgraceful. I truly think that given that this is the Olympics (and considering all that they stand for) that this behavior is embarassing and uncalled for.

    The HS basketball game seems pretty close to the norm as far as basketball games go. The nature of basketball (and baseball) are much different. They are not really conducive to a team being able to stop scoring. I mean in bball you can hold the ball until the shot clark is near expiring to prolong the game, but you can’t simply not play defense and you can’t just hold the ball until the shot clock expires and turn it over. Likewise in baseball, when you are at the plate you try to get a hit. You can hold runners and overall play less aggressively, but if your team his hitting the ball, its going to be a high scoring game.

    Hockey with the ability to dump the plack and play defensive and football with the ability to throw in the second team are examples of situations where the scoring can stop. In one sense, you never want to stop because you never know when things will turn around, BUT there are certainly situations where you know that a team is out of it (Canda v. Italy). In those situations, I think it certainly is in the interest of the name of the game to play with sportsmanship and not run up the score.

    The final example is an easy one in that there was a specific task that needed to be done and that involved running up the score.

    There’s my thoughts.

  15. stanleyfan says:

    In the summer I play on a mens softball team. We joined a tournament last year. The tournament was organized with four groups of teams playing round robins and then the top two teams from each division advancing.

    In our group their was one team that was just out for practise. They lost every game and were beaten bad many times.

    When we played them we did not try and kill them. We enacted the mercy rule (up by 15 runs) as soon as we hit it. (In the middle of our inning and we were batting first.)

    Other teams (2 in particular) made them keep playing until the end of the complete inning. (scoring 21 and 20something) This way the other good teams kept pounding the score up.

    We finished tied for first in our group with two other teams. We were eliminated from the tournament on run differential. (because the two other teams kept scoring runs against the bad team after the point where we had invoked the mercy rule in our game.)

    At the time we were upset we were eliminated but I am still happy with the decision to stop punishing the other team. They were there to play and have fun so were we.

    If we were profesionals, trying to become profesionals, or trying to be the best in the world we would have continued pounding the bad team as well.

    There are no mercy rules in profesional sports to abide by. In a competition were you are trying to be the very best you have to play your very best.

    In any other cir*****stance, keep it fun.

    Just a note, none of you have ever heard of any of the players on the teams that won my softball torunament. None of them have signed deals with Reebok or Nike. None of them retired from the proceeds they received from selling their 16 inch plastic trophy.

  16. RangerSteve says:

    Guess what slapnuts? I’m American and I have no problem in seeing Canada destroy their opponents. When you are in a tournament where there is a chance that a tie breaker could in fact be the goal differential, you have to compete at your highest level.

    Too bad you got your back up and didn’t read my own personal opinion on all of these matters.

  17. FlamingHomer says:

    In the case of the 16-0 game against Italy, The women were on a goal-a-minute pace to start the game so actually they did let up considerably. As far as running up the score in general, if you have an opportunity to score, you should score. If you are ahead by a large margin and are taking risks to add to your total, maybe that’s not cool. (example: if Canada pulled their goalie in the last minute to try to make it 17-0).

  18. Flyer_Dman says:

    But the score wasn’t 5-0, it was 16-0. First place vs last place, and everyone knew it going into the game. That is obsurd, no matter if its the Olympics, College, NHL, or Mites. It just seems like a spit in the face. It isn’t like this is the 8th seed playing th 1st seed, it is a team that has absolutely no business being there against the best team in the world. Canada knew that there is no way the US was going to be able to beat a team by more than 8 goals, let alone 16. They should have used some discretion. In 12 years of playing, coaching, and watching hockey I have never seen a game like that.

  19. BeLEAFer925 says:

    Definately a controversial topic, so I’ve decided to go case by case as well, because each scenario has its reasons behind the running up of scores.

    First off at the ages of the players increases I think their should be no mercy rule, especially in high end competitions. In Canada (GTA in specific) in minor hockey (A and below, i think) as a courtesy to a team being blown out they won’t show the score increases on the scoreboard after a team is up by 5 or 6 goals and they will also run the close (the clock no longers stops). For kids this is fine, but its not needed for adults.

    Now for the 4 cases:

    Case1-Kobe Bryant

    I’ve got no problem with this one and I really don’t like Kobe at all. I see it as a great individual performance, albeit in a team sport, where the rest of his team was playing like crap. If it hadn’t been for Kobe then the lakers would have lost for sure. Plus winning a basketball game by like 20 points is not that much of a blowout, especially when your down by 18 at one point. It just happend that all the points were coming from Kobe. The Raptors should’ve just double or triple teamed Kobe because the rest of the Lakers wouldn’t have won the game on their own. In conclusion: NOT too far.

    Case2: Canadian Womens Hockey Team

    Is 16-0 a blowout? Yes, but it could have been much worse, like 35 or 40 to nothing if they haden’t let up. This game was a mistake by the olympic committee and the IIHF because Italy didn’t even have to quality as the host nation. They’re not supposed to be playing at this level. Canada did let up, but to me even if they had let up more (maybe not shooting or just dump and chase or something) but that could be just as humiliating for the Italians as it would look like the Canadians were just toying with them like school kids playing keep away. As for the American remarks, quite whining because even the Italians said nothing, just try and beat Canada in the finals if you have something to say…um sorry you just lost to Sweden. Anyways even Canadians are saying they shouldn’t run up the scores but when you have 2 high end teams like Canada and the USA and goal differential is the tie-breaker you’ve gotta take what you can get when you can, you can’t rely on USA not running up the score on somebody else to out rank Canada and take home ice away, so just make sure you control your desitiny. In Conclusion: NOT Too Far, but the IIHF is looking to change the tie-breakers to prevent this issue in the future.

    Case3:NJ Baskeball

    This one I felt was too far because the team won by a 105 points with one player scoring 113. It totally wasn’t needed in this case, with no tie-breaker in question, and not a playoff game etc… this was just not needed. They should’ve pulled her when the game was in hand as it would not have changed much for here in the future.

    Case4: NJ hockey

    No problem with this one either because in order to get the #1 rank for the playoffs they needed to win by 13 goals so they just did what they had to do to get the job done. A huge upset…yes…blowout…yes…not needed…no.

  20. chanman says:

    The 16-0 blowout was totally unneeded, especially embarrasing the host like that. When your up 8-0, and you know you have the team and everything going your way, let up and stop crushing them. Its just not needed and helps in no area. But I say that if you go into a game against an even match, and a worthy opponent, let it all hang out and ride it down to the wire, and if you do get that insurmountable margine, dont embarress your opposition. You wouldnt want it happeneing to you.

  21. kicksave856 says:

    Right on, Laus723! Eff TO!

  22. knowshockey says:

    How did you know the U.S. wasn’t going to beat any team by more than 8 goals? Team Canada wouldn’t know the outcome of any of the other games until they were over. The women have been in training all year and why should they go into any game and not play their best. I watch a game to see the players play, not all of a sudden go, oh we have 5 goals, let’s sit on the bench for the rest of the game. The women from Team Italy were extremely happy to play Team Canada and meet with them and receive autographs from them. They had no problem with the game. They said it was an honour to be on the ice with them. Team Canada should have everybody’s support because they have worked extremely hard, and are focussed on playing, and do not deserve any criticism. I would like to know how many of you would sit back and say that’s it game over we have scored too many goals.

  23. archemedes says:

    I remeber palying little league as a kid fi one team got a huge lead, it was called. It’s embarrasing to get beat that bad, and used to br frowned upon as showing off, but today it’s all about more points. Heck if you asked the commisioners of each sport they’d tell you they would love 100 point hockey and baseball games. I personally turn off a game that gets lopsided, or if the score gets outrageously high, it’s boring. Of course another problem is noone is taught respect for their competitor anymore, and shows where the morals of society at large are headed (do unto others then split is a favorite quote)

  24. SabresFan220 says:

    In children’s sports there should be mercy rules. Professionally there are times when it’s just not classy to be running up the score. It’s never fun to watch your team get destroyed, but you and I both love watching our guys pound on the other team.

    I love the Italian hockey fans for cheering the way they did in their games (both men and women’s) against Canada. Nobody left the arena no matter what the score was, and at the end of the game they cheered as if the Italians had won. I haven’t heard such a passionate crowd in years. Even in playoff hockey if the game is winding down and it’s clear your team won’t be winning you have the thought of leaving.

    I am also an American (as if my name didn’t exactly give it away) and while I’m disappointed the American women will only be playing for bronze, I think it’s good that Sweden won. I only wish Canada had fallen too, just to show that both hockey “superpowers” could be beaten. I really hope Sweden can pull off the upset too, it would be great for women’s hockey to see a team defeat both Goliaths to win gold. The Swedes have possibly the best women’s goalie in the world (and my personal favorite) as well as some scoring punch and toughness. Canada will be a tough team to hold down, but I at the very least hope it comes down to the wire, not a Canadian blowout.

    And while I’m on the topic of upsets, how can I not comment on the Swiss men’s team? I am seriously considering tracking down a Swiss newspaper from the last few days, the article is probably amazing regardless of whether or not I can read it. They are nowhere near the most talented team, but maybe the toughest team. Stellar goaltending can beat anyone, strong defense and good, tough hockey will score you a few goals. I wish I believed that some of the Swiss players were good enough to be in the NHL, but beyond the 3 that are, I don’t know. Paul Dipietro has proven he’s still got skill, but at age 35 the NHL might be too fast for him. If the Swiss men prove anything though it’s that a team based approach is tough to beat. Just going out there and playing hard for 60 minutes, combined with the amazing goaltending they’ve gotten out of Gerber in particular (I knew I liked this guy) can beat anyone. I want to see the Swiss challenge for a medal. I liken this situation to the USA basketball Dream Team of the early 90’s. We put the absolute best in the world on the floor against players who wanted their autographs. Now, roughly 10 years later we’re seeing these countries give us hell both on the hardwood and the ice.

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