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On Being Crushed: The Value of Adversity. Or, taking advantage of defining moments

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writerThis story from the Associated Press is getting a lot of attention.  The story is short and you can read the full text below.

At issue is a girls basketball game where the ending score was 100 points to nothing.

The losing team, Dallas Academy,  was “crushed”, “trounced”, “hammered”, “clobbered”, “obliterated”, “thrashed”, “wasted”, “pommeled”, “flogged”, and “driven into the ground” – not just defeated.

And now the team that scored the 100 points to zero victory, Covenant School,  has “winners remorse” – they are sorry – they want to forfeit their victory.

Why should this be?

The new ideology – Apology for Success

Why should anyone apologize for a victory?  Why should anyone apologize for success?  Ifone is winning, then why should one “back off”- stop their winning pursuit in an endeavor – why is this the “right” thing to do?

The story by the AP seems to drift toward an implicit idea that “winners” need to be mindful of the competition and “back off” if the performance or accomplishment gap becomes too wide – a sort of achievement self-governance that sets limits based on the (lack of) attainment of another group of people.  Is this idea and behavior of benefit to society in general?  Since the context is high school, and high school is where many values takes shape, maybe this is a more important issue than it seems.

The winning school wants to forfeit the game and apologize.  Why?

Asking the relevant question

Why isn’t the question asked as to why a girls basketball team could not score even one point in the game?  If anyone should apologize should it not be the losing team?  Apologize to the winners for being such a poor team?

It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened.

Question: Who said the above quote, the winning team or the losing team?  Ans: The winning team.

Who should we be concerned about – the winners or the losers?  This is a false question.  Its the either-or dilemma.  Really, we should be concerned with both groups – the winners and the losers.

The Winners (Covenant School)

There is a certain adrenaline rush to winning.  And, in a certain sense, the bigger the victory the more the rush.  Winning can become intoxicating and self-reinforcing.  The better you think you are, validated by big wins, the more your motivation to become even better and to perhaps take bigger risks for bigger wins.   There are no self-imposed limits.

A parent who attended the game told The Associated Press that Covenant continued to make 3-pointers — even in the fourth quarter. She praised the Covenant players but said spectators and an assistant coach were cheering wildly as their team edged closer to 100 points. (emphasis mine)

Why would one want to diminish this enthusiasm?

The Losers (Dallas Academy)

Dallas Academy has eight girls on its varsity team and about 20 girls in its high school. It is winless over the last four seasons. The academy boasts of its small class sizes and specializes in teaching students struggling with “learning differences,” such as short attention spans or dyslexia.

“It is winless over the past four seasons”.  Why?  Did anyone try to discover why this is the case?  If being winless over 4 seasons is endemic to the “learning differences” then why is this team forced to compete at a level where they have a low probability of winning?

What is the relation of learning disability to athletics?

Is this bad judgement on the part of the Dallas Academy?  Why continually subject these girls to these ongoing loses?  Wouldn’t this be demotivating and undermine the girls high school experience?  This basketball experience would be an ongoing confirmation and validation in the domain of athletics  that they are “losers”  – compounding what these girls already know in academics – that they are “struggling with “learning differences,” such as short attention spans or dyslexia.”  It seems a double whammy on these girls psyche and it does not encourage these girls in a way that would be present if they won more games and could demonstrate and enjoy success.

Endemic losing teams generally replace the coach

What if “struggling with “learning differences,” such as short attention spans or dyslexia” is not related to performance in athletics?  Then what about the coach of the Dallas Academy team?  In the real world, the coach of a winless team in four seasons would be replaced.  If they are keeping this coach at the expense of these 20 girls who have to suffer 4 seasons of loses, then again, Dallas Academy has made a sub-optimal decision about the coach of this team.

Rather than “forfeit and apologize” why doesn’t Covenant School send a coach over to Dallas Academy and teach these girls how to be winners?  Get a winning coach to teach/make a winning team.  This is what happens in the real world in athletics and in business.  Success is much about the coach or the leader whether the team succeeds or fails.

Taking advantage of defining events

If Dallas Academy does not use the defining event of a 100-0 loss and the historical fact of a 4 winless seasons to either get into a different competitive league, or replace the coach then they have missed an opportunity to learn from adversity.  I have heard it too many times “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the sign of insanity”.  Ok, so now I get to use it.

The “Get”

The wrong thing is for winners to think they need to apologize.  The burden and action  is on the losers – to become winners.

Girls Basketball Team Regrets Winning 100-0, Seeks Forfeit

Girls Basketball Team Regrets Winning 100-0 Seeks Forfeit
Friday , January 23, 2009
Associated Press

A Texas high school girls basketball team on the winning end of a 100-0 game has a case of blowout remorse.

Now officials from the winning school say they are trying to do the right thing by seeking a forfeit and apologizing for the margin of victory.

In a statement Thursday on The Covenant School’s Web site, the head of school said, “It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened.” He went on to say that Covenant has made “a formal request to forfeit the game recognizing that a victory without honor is a great loss.”

Last week Covenant, a private Christian school in Dallas, defeated Dallas Academy 100-0. Covenant was up 59-0 at halftime.

A parent who attended the game told The Associated Press that Covenant continued to make 3-pointers — even in the fourth quarter. She praised the Covenant players but said spectators and an assistant coach were cheering wildly as their team edged closer to 100 points.

“I think the bad judgment was in the full-court press and the 3-point shots,” said Renee Peloza, whose daughter plays for Dallas Academy. “At some point, they should have backed off.”

Dallas Academy coach Jeremy Civello told The Dallas Morning News that the game turned into a “layup drill,” with the opposing team’s guards waiting to steal the ball and drive to the basket. Covenant scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and “finally eased up when they got to 100 with about four minutes left,” he said.

Dallas Academy has eight girls on its varsity team and about 20 girls in its high school. It is winless over the last four seasons. The academy boasts of its small class sizes and specializes in teaching students struggling with “learning differences,” such as short attention spans or dyslexia.

There is no mercy rule in girls basketball that shortens the game or permits the clock to continue running when scores become lopsided. There is, however, “a golden rule” that should have applied in this contest, said Edd Burleson, the director of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Both schools are members of this association, which oversees private school athletics in Texas.

“On a personal note, I told the coach of the losing team how much I admire their girls for continuing to compete against all odds,” Burleson said. “They showed much more character than the coach that allowed that score to get out of hand. It’s up to the coach to control the outcome.”

Covenant coach Micah Grimes and head of school Kyle Queal did not immediately respond to messages left by The Associated Press on Thursday.

In the statement on the Covenant Web site, Queal said the game “does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition. We humbly apologize for our actions and seek the forgiveness of Dallas Academy, TAPPS and our community.”

Queal said school officials met with Dallas Academy officials to apologize and praised “each member of the Dallas Academy Varsity Girls Basketball team for their strength, composure and fortitude in a game in which they clearly emerged the winner.” Civello said he appreciated the gesture and has accepted the apology “with no ill feelings.”

At a shootaround Thursday, several Dallas Academy players said they were frustrated during the game but felt it was a learning opportunity. They also said they are excited about some of the attention they are receiving from the loss, including an invitation from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to see an NBA game from his suite.

“Even if you are losing, you might as well keep playing,” said Shelby Hyatt, a freshman on the team. “Keep trying, and it’s going to be OK.”

Peloza said the coach and other parents praised the Dallas Academy girls afterward for limiting Covenant to 12 points in the fourth quarter. She added that neither her daughter nor her teammates seemed to dwell on the loss.

“Somewhere during that game they got caught up in the moment,” Peloza said of the Covenant players, fans and coaches. “Our girls just moved on. That’s the happy part of the story.”

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Written by frrl

January 24, 2009 at 7:16 am

Posted in Commentary and Opinion

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3 Responses

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  1. […] do with premade gear for losing team …The D-town Lions and the quest for histO(-16)ryOn Being Crushed: The Value of Adversity. Or, taking advantage of …Covenant Girls Baseketball Gets 100-0 Win, School Seeks to ForfeitSore Winners: When Blowouts Are […]

  2. I am amazed at your ability to cover ruthlessness with the veneer of some principle. These are kids,and teaching them to win at all costs, to humiliate an opponent, and the to be “defined” by it, turns the whole notion of sportsmanship on its head. Adults who promote this type of attitude are typically immature and of small character (i.e. Coach Grimes who refuses to apologize), much like their defenders. You do have one thing right however, Covenant School will be “defined” by this moment for some time to come. It’s not a definition I would put in the promotional literature though.

    mespo727272

    January 26, 2009 at 2:04 pm

  3. If Christ had the opportunity to save 100 souls should he only save 59 so that the devil won’t feel bad?

    Uncontainable Spirit

    January 26, 2009 at 12:33 pm


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