FIRST-PERSON: Football, a 91-0 loss & bullying?
To say that Fort Worth Western Hills was outscored by the undefeated Aledo High School Bearcats would be an understatement. The No. 1 team in Texas' 4A classification crossed the goal line 13 times during the Oct. 18 contest.
It is worth noting that in seven games this season Aledo has outscored its opponents 485 to 47, which averages to a score of 69-6 per game. The Bearcats have two games where they scored 84 points and one in which they scored 77.
According to everyone involved, including the head coach of Western Hills, Aledo did everything it could to keep the score down. The Bearcats' first team only ran 21 plays in the game.
Yet one Western Hills parent took umbrage to the defeat and promptly filed a bullying complaint against the Bearcats coaching staff.
The CBS affiliate for Dallas/Fort Worth, Channel 11, obtained a copy of the compliant and included it in a story on the station's website. The perturbed parent wrote:
"My son plays for western hills football team on friday night we all witnessed bullying first hand, it is not a pretty sight. Picking up my son from the field house after the game and taking him home was tough, I did not know what to say on the ride home to explain the behavior of the aledo coach for not easing up when the game was in hand.... During the game the aledo players showed respect to my son and I thank them for their good sportsmanship...."
I feel for the parent who wrote the complaint. I, too, have had to console my children after lopsided losses. One of my daughter's soccer games was a 13-0 defeat. If the game were scored according to the rules of football, it would have been a 91-0 loss.
So how does a parent address a sports loss, especially a lopsided one? Allow me to suggest some ways to approach a defeat in such a way as to mitigate the humiliation factor.
First, you need to be prepared. What happened to Western Hills was not unexpected. After all, Aledo had twice scored 84 points. As a parent, I would remind my son that Aledo is a formidable opponent and encourage him to play his best.
"But each one must examine his own work," the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Galatia, "and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another."
The best is all a player can ever give. Sometimes an opponent is just better. When this is the case, I would look for any positive and point it out.
Next, I would I want to help put things in perspective to lessen the impact of the loss as much as possible. A quick Google search will reveal that in 1927 a football game between two Kansas high schools resulted in Haven defeating Sylvia 256-0.
In a 2007 baseball game, Dallas Lake Highlands defeated Samuel High 53-0. The game was called after the fifth inning due to a Texas high school baseball mercy rule.
I would use these examples to lighten the mood a bit and indicate, with a smile, others have been beat by bigger margins. I would also point out that my son's team had fared about as well as others had.
I would also remain positive. I would make sure my child understood that in life a person's self-worth is not determined by athletic performance. Character counts more than winning a game.
"Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing," Paul told the Thessalonian believers. If ever someone needed encouraging, it would be a child after a lopsided sports loss.
I would point out that a person's character is revealed by how one reacts after a loss. I would encourage my son to pick himself up and look to the next opponent, which is likely to be more mortal than the team he just played.
Finally, I would practice patience. I would allow a good night's sleep to take away some of the sting of the lopsided loss. I would certainly wait until the morning after the defeat before deciding to file a bullying complaint, which I would refrain from doing.
Everyone must be "quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger," the Bible says in the book of James, "for man's anger does not accomplish God's righteousness."
The complaining parent was upset after his son's team was drubbed. However, his complaint did not help the situation. Some would argue it made it worse by calling undo attention to the loss.
What do you do when your child's team is defeated 91-0? You do everything you can to mitigate the sting of defeat and point them to the future. One loss, no matter how lopsided, does not define a person's life.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).