Lopsides games from a former coaches’ perspective…
I have three inspirations for my blog this week – one is the excellent article written by Paul Valencia outlining the similarities between success and income for area high school football teams. Another one is the rant by Oregon’s Nick Aliotti regarding Washington State’s attempt to get back into last Saturday’s game with the Ducks and a third is the accusation that a Texas high school football team was bullying another on the field.
The common denominator in all three of these? A lopsided game and no matter how much effort is put into making things fair in youth sports blowouts happen. And I don’t think fans realize how akward and uncomfortable it is for both sides when the game has pretty much been decided long before the end of the game. But as a coach (and as a player) there are ways to handle it…for some tips how I’d like to invite you into both locker rooms at halftime of a high school football game where the score is 35-0.
First…let’s go into the leading team’s locker room…
“Ok guys, that was a great first half. You took everything that we’ve worked on all week and applied it out there and I couldn’t ask for anything more. So I’m giving you starters the rest of the game off and our second team will start the second half. If we’re still ahead by a lot going into the fourth quarter our third team is going to get in there and we’ll substitute from there on out. Second and third teamers I want you to give it your all and remember this is why you go to all the practices and why you give everything you’ve got in practice is in case you get your chance in a game. First teamers I want you up on the sidelines and pulling for these guys just as hard as they pull for you. But the second any of you taunt them, you’ll be sitting next to me. We play with class no matter what the score, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone out there playing hard and representing your families, your team, your school and your community.”
Now we check in with the trailing team’s locker room and eavesdrop on their coach….
“Wow….well I’m not going to sugar-coat this…I know it was frustrating and I know it’s not what you thought would happen but the reality is we’re sitting here down by five touchdowns. So we need to try something different out there and here it is – let’s forget about the score…right now it’s 0-0 in our minds and we’re going to break this up into four-minute sections and all I want you to focus on is the next four minutes of the game. Then after that we’re going to try to win the next four minutes, and the next four, and the next four. Stay in the moment, play hard, play fair and give it your all because you never know what might happen. I’d like to tell you a little story…about a playoff game between the Houston Oilers and the Buffalo Bills. At one point Buffalo was behind by about the same margin we were…35-3. But they didn’t give up, they kept fighting, they kept playing hard and they kept cutting into the deficit and wouldn’t you know it they eventually won the game. Now I’m not saying that will happen to us, but you never know what will happen out there. But again, play hard, play fair and play with class…it’s a new half and a new opportunity. Let’s win the next four minutes, guys.”
So the common thread is to keep going full steam, go hard but play with class. Because where I sit from the cheap seats that’s the only way to play, because there is nowhere karma proves true than in sports…the team you blow out today and rub their nose in it you almost always play again.
Well I goofed….I broke three of my cardinal rules of predicting games. One, never start talking about how good you are.. two, always pick the home team when it’s a toss-up game and three, keep your biases out of your picks. I went against all three of these and the result was a 2-1 week. But if that’s a bad week I will take it…on to this week’s picks!!!
OREGON 46, UCLA 11 (High-flying Ducks face their toughest opponent of the year and as usual it’s at home. UCLA plays a tough style and have a very good QB but it’s not enough)
WASHINGTON 33, Cal 10 (Huskies break three-game win streak but don’t look real good doing it)
STANFORD 38, Oregon State 30 (Cardinal outlast the Beavs but it’s close)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 SEASON: 23-3