Friday, January 23, 2009

Winning by a Landslide Is Bad Form

Or so we are supposed to believe. The Covenant School, a private Christian K-12 school based in Dallas, beat Dallas Academy, another private school in the area, by 100 points in a recent girls basketball game. The catch seems to be that the other team scored no points.

This upset has gained so much unfriendly press (people have accused The Covenant School of unsportsman-like behavior and bad judgment) that the winning team has decided to forfeit the game and has apologized to the other team. Renee Peloza, the mother of one of the Dallas Academy players, said, "I think the bad judgment was in the full-court press and the 3-point shots."

Alright, so the Covenant players are far better at basketball than the Dallas Academy players. Does that make them bad people? Does that constitute cheating? Should they really have forfeited the game? I believe the answer to all three questions is a vehement "no." We teach our children to play hard, perform well, and win. We do not reward sloth and we do not reward sloughing points to opponents. If the Dallas Academy team were better, we would be angry with the Covenant players for doing these things. Why should we condemn them now for playing well, by the rules? We shouldn't.

This kind of "do well, but don't do your best" mentality is redolent of the U.N.'s response to Israel's defense of its borders. Yes, Israel is stronger and more technologically advanced. Does that mean it should allow Hamas militants to walk into its territory and blow things up? How's about just a couple of targets so Hamas and the Gazan Palestinians can save face? Israel has the right to use force to prevent attacks on its soil, even if it means inflicting damage on the enemy. The same is true of The Covenant School girls basketball team. To force them to do less than their best is unfair, unjust, and un-American. Furthermore, I believe it is un-Christian.

Christians should see themselves as God's image-bearers. We should reflect his attributes to society around us. If God is perfect, and requires perfection (Matt. 5:48), then we should attempt to perform all tasks with perfection. The object of basketball is to put the ball through the opposing side's hoop as much as possible, scoring points. Equally important is preventing the opposing side from doing the same. These girls (as long as they didn't cheat, slander, or trash-talk their opponents) played a perfect game.

If others do not like the lopsided nature of that particular game, then there should be discussion of splitting the division so that those teams who are not as skilled can play each other. Or, find a way to lift Dallas Academy's playing ability. Let's not condemn each other for doing well, lest we find ourselves killing glasses-wearers and book-readers for appearing smart.


RA said...

It was definitely a case of poor sportsmanship. There was a time when he honored being a good sport but it is less and less the case these days.

It was a bit of a case of vain glory. But it was the fault of the coaches. You do not press and drub a team 100-0 just because you can. At some point, you call off the dogs.

You would certainly hope for better from a Christian school and it is rightly embarrassed..

Steven Douglas said...

Thanks for your post, RA. Do you have further information? From the little I read of the situation, the only thing they did that might have seemed overkill was play good defense and offense. But that's what they are supposed to do.

What do you mean by "call off the dogs"? Do you mean they should play less well. or that they should have called the game early? I would disagree with the former and would only agree with the latter if the losing team was willing to go along with it. It seems they did not have rules in place to control a situation like this. In that light, they only did what they were supposed to do. From what I have heard/read, I think they did everything right and don't think they have anything to apologize for unless there was something further that they did wrong.