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Highlighting the absurdity of the "false self-esteem" culture
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, September 23, 2006

I heard about this story earlier in the week and never had an opportunity to write about it:
Sharp on offense and unrelenting on defense, Bridgeport Central High School’s football team played a terrific game Friday night to win its season opener against its city rival Bassick, 56-0. Now, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference will decide if Bridgeport Central played too well.

Bridgeport Central’s coach, Dave Cadelina, is the first Connecticut high school football coach to face a possible one-game suspension for violating a rule implemented in May that prohibits teams from winning by more than 50 points. Cadelina has appealed his impending suspension, and his case may be heard as early as today by a three-member panel representing the C.I.A.C., which governs high school sports in Connecticut.
As it turns out, this coach was not suspended as it became clear he did everything but put the cheerleaders in to try to hold down the score.

But that's really not the point, is it?

What in the world is such a rule doing in existence in high-school football?
“We have had some real blowouts, and in our judgment, there was no reason for it,” said Tony Mosa, the assistant executive director of the C.I.A.C. “There were enough scores in that 50-, 60-point range where we were concerned and thought we needed to do something about it.

“We had one game last year that was 90-0. We felt that kids should not be humiliated, nor should they humiliate others. That’s not what the mission of high school sports should be. If a coach attempts to blow out another team, we regard that as an unsportsmanlike act, just as we would if a coach got in a fight in a game.”
What's more humiliating, for heaven sake, getting blown out or having someone pull their punches so as not to score too many points against you?

I heard an interview with the opposing coach who said that while his team was not happy about being blown out like they were, he and his team would have been much more humiliated if Bridgeport Central had attempted to do things on the field to kept the score down. Like stepping out of bounds instead of scoring, etc.

He said this was a necessary learning experience for his team and getting beat is part of the game. By how much really isn't that relevant and only emphasizes the amount of work to be done. Said Bassick coach, George Loughrey:
“He did everything he could not to run up the score on us,” Loughrey said. “I don’t care for this rule. I’m in a league where I have been on the bottom for a long time, and nobody has ever run the score up on my team. We didn’t need this rule. I’m glad he didn’t lay down. That would have embarrassed my kids.”
No kidding. A rule to manage "humiliation". A rule to limit "disappointment". Instead its a rule which encourages embarrassment.

But this is simply another in a long line of indicators of how wrong our education system has gone. As Mike Lopresti says:
Put education folks in a room long enough to discuss any issue, and know what you'll get? A rule. Guaranteed, every time.

It won't have to make sense. It won't have to be practical. But it'll look good on paper. They love regulations like lions love antelope.


Another bad habit of education. Act to the lowest common denominator. Instead of summoning one or two offenders and telling them enough is enough, pass a rule that covers all those who do not need it.

So when it is 51-7, the coach and backup quarterback must both beware. Try too hard, and the state is coming after you.

One lousy message to send.
One of the worst.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

So, the coach is supposed to teach his athletes not to play as hard as they can, because if they win by too large a margin it might hurt the other team’s feelings?

That is perverse.

I think Mike Lopresti misses the point. The problem isn’t that the Connecticut IAC made a general rule when they should have singled out "one or two offenders". The problem is a culture that regards athletes who play their hardest as "offenders."
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
If I were a coach in that league, and were in danger of running afoul of the rule, I’d give the Association a concrete reason to be pissed. I’d tell my quarterback to run backwards to our own end zone, then drop the ball and let them recover for a touchdown. Then, the next drive, we’d go out and score again. Repeat as need to keep the score within the 50 point rule.

I admit this would be more humiliating to the other team then if we simply quit trying. But it’s the rule that inflicts the humiliation.

I don’t know, it’s probably too cruel, but at least it points up the absurdity pretty starkly.
Written By: jinnmabe
URL: http://
Why is there such a disparity in scores? If the schools are so much different in resources and/or ability, start a new league. Georgia Tech does not play Shepherd Univ.(never heard of it? That’s the point), so why on earth do they have a league where they can get a point spread of 90 for crying out loud?
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It’s high school, and schools play against schools close to them. WHen I was playing junior we used to win by margins of at least 35-50. Actually it wasn’t until the last game that we even got scored on, excepting a safety, and we would have move up a tier, but well there was no one else to play. As for the rules... if you think the coach is running up the score, the proper thing to do is to work that much harder next time. We blew out one team 56-0, and even scored twice with nothing but back up players. We even threw in our second string fullback as QB, and we still scored. The other team got pissed, and when we met them in the play-offs they actually outscored us in the first half (first time ever). We came back to win by a 21 point margin, but still, the point is, when you get embarrased, the proper response should be: I need to work harder, not they need to work less hard.
Written By: Joe Canadian
URL: http://
So why do schools that are close together have such differing athletic capabilities? And not all high schools play schools close to them.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I was on a football team back in the day that took a 79-0 whupping at the hands of our arch-rivals. In the fog. And the rain. One of their second-string tackles was put in at fullback and scored.

Their team that year set the state record for scoring (we only played 9 games a season then) at over 400 points, and one of their backs set the state record for individual scoring.

Our team was 4-5, so we weren’t bad, we were just outclassed that night. We played hard right to the daggone end.

I sincerely doubt if my self-esteem or that of any of my teammates (many of whom went on to very successful careers, two at the national level) suffered in any way.

IT’S A GAME, DAMNIT!! The players should know that even if the idiots who run athletics don’t.
Written By: JorgXMcKie
URL: http://
"So why do schools that are close together have such differing athletic capabilities?"

Better coaching at one school (this is probably the number one reason for the difference - at the HS level there is a huge difference in coaching ability. For every great coach there are 25 crappy ones.).

More community and financial support at one school.

Schools may have strong traditions in some sports and weak traditions in others. The best athletes often gravitate towards the best programs/coaches at the school.

Bigger schools have a lot of sports programs. There are not enough quality athletes to fill all of them, thus some of them will be poor performers.

Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I’ll also add that in my experience as both a HS athlete and coach, many of the people who run the athletic associations at the state level are among the most petty, controlling, hidebound individuals you’ll ever meet. There are a plethora of rules for every d*mn thing. It can be nauseating.
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Finally, to echo other commenters on here - I’ve been beaten completely and thoroughly and never once did I ever think that it was unfair. Neither did any of my teammates. We simply resolved to work harder and win. For some reason the people who run sports (and often the parents) don’t understand this attitude. For them, it’s all about a warped sense of fairness.
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Aldo, it’s one thing to recognize that the rule is stupid, but you seem to have no idea what motivated it, so your criticism misses the point. The people who brought this rule into being had no intention of telling the coach to teach his athletes not to play as hard as they can, because if they win by too large a margin it might hurt the other team’s feelings. It’s designed to tell the students to know when their opponent has been beaten. Sometimes that happens well before the clock runs out. The people who made this rule don’t understand what either team would be playing for when the difference in scores is 7 touchdowns.

Ironically, this may be a result of educators focusing more on manipulating the numbers and less on life lessons. Surely we would want No Athlete Left Behind (gag).
Written By: Wulf
i played 4 bridgeport central n in d 2004 season wen we went 10-0 in d season 4 d first time in many years, we thought we were asually going 2 win d state championship but unfortunately we lost our first game in d playoff 59-7 to d number 1 team in the state, last season, we went 3-7. for our coach to get suspended 4 beating a team dat hasn’t scored any point against any team since 2001, dat would be some bullsh*t. i was at dat game n bassick looks like dey get worse every year. the last touchdown was scored by a jv player against their vasity team dats how much dey stink.
Written By: gabriel
URL: http://
This reminds me of a scene from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Horatio Jackson: Ah, the officer who risked his life by singlehandedly destroying *six* enemy cannon and rescuing ten of our men help captive by The Turk.
Heroic Officer: Yes, sir.
Horatio Jackson: The officer about whom we’ve heard so much.
Heroic Officer: I suppose so, sir.
Horatio Jackson: Always taking risks far beyond the call of duty.
Heroic Officer: I only did my best, sir.
Horatio Jackson: Have him executed at once. This sort of behavior is demoralizing for the ordinary soldiers and citizens who are trying to lead normal, simple, unexceptional lives. I think things are difficult enough without these emotional people rocking the boat.
Written By: Adam Lassek
URL: http://
"It’s designed to tell the students to know when their opponent has been beaten."

Do the opponents have a say in that? If they really want this to happen, they should stop the game when the differential is 50.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
There are a plethora of rules for every d*mn thing. It can be nauseating.

Yes there are rules for almost everything and it can be sickening. Even more sickening is the reason that every thing has to be regulated - mainly coaches with a sense of overblown self importance equate a freshman or JV game with winning the Super Bowl. (No, I am not saying that you are guilty of that.) I happen to officiate HS sports and can tell you that coaches will cheat. While the old expression is "if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying." the fact of the matter is that one of the things that sports is supposed to teach young men and women is honesty and a sense of fair play. That is tough to do when the coach condones lying to officials and cheating.

It’s designed to tell the students to know when their opponent has been beaten."

One of the unwritten rules of sports is to never rub a victory in the face of another team. This is akin to the life’s lesson of "never kick a man when he is down."

On a practical level, most fights, fouls, and ugly situations occur during blowouts, so you do want to try and limit blowouts as much as you can within the bounds of sportsmanship.

When this rule was implimented, it caused a stir in the officiating world. Many officials thought a better solution would be to have a running clock at some point instead of a "normally timed" game. This is done in some states and in other sports as well. Connecticut chose to go a different route in order to allow kids to play the game instead of shortening it.

It is important to note the genesis of this rule. You had a coach that was out of control killing teams in an unsportsmanlike manner. He would call time out up by 50+ points. He would throw the ball up by 60+ points. While clearly against the "unwritten rules" of the game, this association felt they needed to codify those rules.

From reading the article, it seems that suspended coach played the game the right way. He put in subs. He did not call excessive time outs. He ran the ball instead of throwing (which prolongs the game.) I hope that his suspension is overturned. He was teaching his kids the right things about sports and life. For that he should not be penalized.
Written By: Football Baseball Official
URL: http://
Hey FBO, you’re right, that is the other side of the coin. In my sport, track & field, cheating does not occur so often (at least at the HS level) so I’m a bit insulated from it. It didn’t occur much when I competed collegiately either, but T&F doesn’t have the external pressures to win at all costs like the major sports (though this is less and less so at the professional level).

Nevertheless, I think there are better ways to deal with renegades than implementing zero-tolerence rules that unintentionally harm the blameless. As the quoted Lopresti says "Instead of summoning one or two offenders and telling them enough is enough, pass a rule that covers all those who do not need it."

It’s unfortunate that other coaches, parents, and administrators don’t do more to deal with these circumstances on a case by case basis. This is all part of the further erosion of morality in society. We’re less and less likely to locally and immediately call someone on the table for bad behavior and more and more likely to demand our authority figures ’solve’ the problem. It will never work. All the rules in the world will not instill moral and ethical behavior and those of us who are moral and ethical will continue to chafe under the growing pile of regulations that add only cost and no value to our efforts.

Written By: Unknown
URL: http://

You make a valid point concerning "calling people in on the carpet" and dealing with the issue instead of having to make blanket rules.

Here’s the problem with that though......

You had a coach that was out of control as far as sportsmanship. The previous year he had run up scores in a clearly unsportsmanlike and inappropriate manner. So as the governing body for the state, you call him in on the carpet (which they initially did) and say "knock it off."

His response was basically that he was playing the game within the rules he was given.

How do you get rid of a guy or discipline a guy for playing the game within the rules? With teacher’s unions and lawyers lurking all over the place, how do you deal with a clown like that?

You can’t unless you make a rule that is not specific to him, but covers his actions.

That is what happened here.

Now you have some good, decent coach that is caught up in this and he shouldn’t be penalized for it.

This situation is sad on so many levels. The idiot coach skips away scott free and the coach that is teaching his young men the right thing gets penalized. I really hope that his suspension is over turned.
Written By: Football Baseball Official
URL: http://
"With teacher’s unions and lawyers lurking all over the place..."

Enough said.
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I just heard about this Saturday night. Point spread should have nothing to do with someone’s self esteem. How well you play and what kind of attitude you bring to the game do. And while many adults have the best intentions they sometimes forget that kids are not stupid...such a rule insults the intelligence of many young people.
Written By: Mike Davis

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