I wasn't going to go with this story- I was planning a Martin World News and not an Op-Ed. But someone at work brought this story up, and I've given the whole thing some careful thought.
On the 5th of January, Arroyo Valley High (California) girls' basketball team lined up to play Bloomington. When the smoke cleared, the scoreboard read 161-2 in favor of Arroyo- and a few days later, their coach was suspended for running up the score. The Bloomington coach complained that Arroyo ran a full-court press the entire first half. The Arroyo coach said he never played the starters in the second half.
First half, 104-1.
Second half (without the starters and the press) 57-1.
So, who is the real a-hole here?
Well, I did a little digging. Bloomington is playing in division 3- out of six divisions in CA. Their average score against their opponents- NOT including the Arroyo game- is 65-11. Average. They have scored in single digits in 7 of 14 games, gave up over 100 points three times, and the only time that they have been beat by LESS than 40 points was a 51-13 loss to Ontario the very next night.
So tell me this- why division three? Why not division six, where they might play a game that ends in the same zip code? And why, if it was SO terrible that Arroyo beat them by 159, why do their coach and Athletic Director allow them to play cannon fodder to teams so much better than they?
Here's what I'm getting at. The coach of Arroyo got suspended because his team "ran up the score", "damaging the other team's self esteem". Just like in our schools, where we are about to lose the A-B-C-D-F system that served us so well because getting a c, d, or f might damage little Billy's self esteem. Everyone should feel "equal", no matter what the truth is.
My daughter, God love'r, struggled in school. Mainly do to application. Why try hard when you can follow in Mom's footsteps- work only when absolutely necessary, mooch off a gullible boyfriend. She saw it work fine for Mom, and she was smart enough to do it her way. So what if she got d's and f's in class after class, she got passed on anyway- despite the best efforts of teachers that genuinely tried to help her- and out through high school, if sans diploma, just like Mom. If the school had made the grade worth something, it might have made a difference. And it might not have.
Because, let's face it, self-esteem is NOT built in school. It is built at home, by a child's parents. And here is where I will take my fair share of blame. Shenan struggled in a lot of areas, and her struggles combined with our divorce most likely did a real number on her self esteem, as her Mom's parentage did one on her work ethic. (So why did you marry her mom? Well, that's a whole other story, best summed up with the words "Chris", "idiot", and "was". Maybe I'll tell it later. But it's pretty far afield of the subject here.)
But what Shenan is a good example of, is accomplishment by the numbers doesn't have anything to do with being a sweet, loving person, which she is. Now, let's veer back to the original story. And we left it with a question- if the powers that be at Bloomington HS and the California HSAA are so concerned about the girls at Bloomington, why then not let them play at a level they could be competitive in? Why blame the coaches of other teams good enough to beat them with three girls sitting in lawn chairs, when it's BLOOMINGTON picking their schedule? I can't prove it, but I have an Idea...
On the second week of the college football season just past, #9 at the time Texas A&M whalloped FCS lightweight Lamar 73-3. That same day, another SEC power- Arkansas- destroyed another team that had trouble winning against teams their own size, Nichols State, 73-7. Why on earth would either of these small, weak schools, play SEC powerhouses- at the SEC teams home field? Because the payout they get from playing one game in a packed FBS stadium pays for their entire season. Never mind that their players' "self-esteem" is damaged, by golly, they'll have new band uniforms next year. (Parenthetically, Nicholls State also lost to Lamar 63-21. As Huey Lewis said, "Sometimes, bad is bad..."
So tell me, what payout does Bloomington get for being the worst team in state history? For being in the top half of the state's divisions, and being ranked 1271 out of 1279? Maybe the Arroyo coach shoulda/coulda backed off... but I'd like to hear Bloomington administration tell us why they were playing so far out of their weight class in the first damn place.