In recent years there has been a ton of talk about not running up the score on teams in high school sports because you don't want to hurt the kids' feelings. I remember some game in some sport in Connecticut that was a blowout and led to the introduction of legislation mandating "Mercy Rules" in high school sports or some such bullshit (this post is obviously really well researched). And I remember thinking that it was absolute bullshit. Getting your ass handed to you is humbling and builds character. What does it matter if it's 40-0 or 140-0. If you know the team could have beat you more severely but backed down, isn't that worse for a kid's psyche? And then I saw the score of the Westhill v. LaFayette football game in Central NY this weekend and I literally cringed.
Westhill High Football beat LaFayette High 90-0. 90 points. It was 63-0 at halftime. Coming out of halftime, Westhill still had their first team offense in, including All-State running back Dale Ross. But it could have been much worse. In the final 6 minutes, rather than scoring touchdowns, Westhill attempted 3 field goals and missed them all. But while you can fault Westhill all you want, this game really never should have been played. Before this year, LaFayette had been a Class D football school but because they were combined with another school district for football purposes, their combined enrollment forced them into Class B Football (the other school district hadn't fielded a football team in 50 years). Lafayette only had 30 players and only 5 of those had played varsity football before. I'm not saying anyone is necessarily "at fault" for this nor am I absolving anyone from fault, but this result was more a combination of factors than it was simply Westhill coaches acting like dicks. And not only that but I think setting the bar this low for the LaFayette Football program is a good thing and I would NEVER advocate any such shit limiting the amount of points a team could score.
In 6th grade my basketball team got beat by Potsdam by a score of something like 100-12 (it probably wasn't quite that bad but over the years the spread has grown). The next time we played them, they only beat us by 40 (mostly because we played a modified 4 corners offense and limited Potsdam's possessions) and we were elated. We won a dozen or so games that year but to a man (or at least squeaky voiced boy), we held that 40 point loss as our greatest achievement. We built off that loss and cut the deficit down year-by-year and by my sophomore year in high school we beat that team. Now I'm not saying that the 90 point deficit motivated us any more than say a 50 point deficit would have. We still would have wanted to win the next game as badly, but because the first deficit was so great we were able to cut the next deficit in half and come away with a sense of satisfaction for doing so that we wouldn't have been able to do had the first game been only a 50 point deficit. Had their been some sort of limit to how much the other team could score, we would have been limited in finding out just how much we had improved the next time.
Lafayette Football will someday play Westhill again (though probably not next year because they are likely moving to Class C), and they will not lose by 90 points. Even if they lose by 60, that's a marked improvement. They will play them someday after that, and they will beat them. And on that day they will look back on this shitkicking and realize just how far they've come. Sometimes you have to get your ass beat really badly to set the low watermark in order to take those baby steps to make your way back. If you set that watermark artificially higher than it should be you limit the team's ability to grow. No matter how insignificant it may seem to the outside world.