- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The run-up-the-score grievance in high school sports is a trite but universal one.

It is inevitably leveled by the parents of the vanquished because no one outside the respective school districts usually cares if Team X defeated Team Y by a zillion points.

But in these touchy-feely, self-indulgent times, the run-up-the-score gripe is increasingly gaining traction around the nation.

The latest “score-management” policy comes from the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which has implemented a 50-point rule in football.

If a coach allows his team to defeat an opponent by more than 50 points, he will receive a one-game suspension and perhaps be ordered to attend sensitivity-training class.

This is a poorly conceived rule on so many levels, starting with a coach having his backup quarterback take a knee on first down in the fourth quarter in order to prevent his team from exceeding the 50-point rule.

Does this leave intact the self-esteem of the players on the overwhelmed team?

Do they feel better about themselves if the winning team has been required to take pity on them?

The addle-brained softies in Connecticut might as well have elected to ban football from the curriculum. Football is a barbaric sport anyway. Players get hurt. Players see their state championship dreams fall short. Players see their hopes of playing in Division I dissolve.

All of it is so hard on their precious self-esteem, not unlike life itself.

The game of life is the ultimate opponent, and most of us have come up short in it at one time or another.

In that way, sports are a useful preparation course, whether the score is 7-6 or 60-0.

Things just don’t always turn out the way you like, no matter how much work and sweat you put into an endeavor.

High school sports are often a teen’s first experience with raw failure; sports are a safe teacher in that way.

Losing a game by 60 points is hardly a serious event, far different from losing a job because of layoffs.

The worst possible outcome of a 60-point loss is the coach possibly yelling, and the player possibly feeling a sense of disappointment and working to close the gap.

None of that is a bad thing, for there will be screamers in adulthood, along with disappointment and those who think nothing of burying you to get ahead in the highly competitive workplace.

High school sports used to be a good place to learn those lessons.

But in Connecticut, those who should know better are concerned that their youth will be emotionally scarred for life by an extremely lopsided score.

If so, wait until those youth get into the workforce and become immersed in the cut-throat competitiveness of the U.S. marketplace.

The latter is incredibly more rugged than a high school football game.

Of course, to be safe, they always could get into the education business, which does not have to play by the rules of the U.S. marketplace.

If our under-performing public school system had to play by the same rules as Bill Gates, we would have a whole lot fewer public schools. In fact, we probably would have no public schools left in D.C., so illustriously incompetent are they.

In the insulated environment of public education, it is perfectly reasonable to come up with a 50-point rule because of concern with the feelings of the conquered.

Here is the thing, educators: In the real world, no one cares about your feelings and self-esteem and personal issues.

People care only to move you or your company aside, which is not a bad thing.

You do not want to compete? Fine.

Move to the socialist paradise of Cuba, where you can stand in line for hours for a scoop of government-approved ice cream.

The best message one could deliver to those who can’t stay within 50-some points of opponent is: Take up chess or get in the weight room, son.

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