Dignity takes a hard hit in high school sports tournaments

It’s high school tournament time, and reader Kevin Bohan has forwarded this box score from Hasse Arena in Lakeville where Lakeville South beat Winona in the boy’s high school hockey sectional playoff 19-to-0.

19-0? Lakeville South also outshot Winona 81-12. Let’s just say this one was over early. It’s the third straight year that Lakeville South ended Winona’s season.

The last goal of the game came with 15 seconds left on an assist from Jake Rahbain, a finalist for this year’s Mr. Hockey Award.

Unless I’m missing something, if you’re playing a Mr. Hockey finalist in a game you lead 18-0 with 15 seconds to go, you’re not trying to go easy on a beaten opponent. You’re trying to score #19.

“They ran (the score) up on us,” Winona coach Fran McDevitt tells the Winona Daily News. “When the score is what it was, it’s like, why are your top kids out there playing defense?”

On the Star Tribune’s high school hockey site, parents who were at the game insist Lakeville South was respecting their opponents by playing hard. And, several said Rahbain wasn’t trying to score, but was setting up his teammates — apparently ones who hadn’t scored or scored often during the season — to get a goal in their senior year.

From the look of last night’s scoreboard, running up the score is pretty common now. Maple Grove beat North Metro, 16-1. Hermantown beat Moose Lake 11-1. Edina beat Bloomington Kennedy 15-1.

There must be a lot of pride there somewhere. There’s certainly a problem in vastly differing levels of talent.

Writing in the Southwest Journal recently, Jim Walsh relayed the story of a parent of a Southwest High School boys basketball player, who let the coach of Edina know that running up the score in a 78-9 game isn’t what the game is about.

“He had grey hair, about 55, and I was being cool, under the radar, not a crazy parent,” said the 59-year-old McFalls, who played baseball, basketball and football for Tamarac High School in Troy, New York. “I just said, ‘You know, in the old days that would’ve be viewed as really running up the score.’ He looked at me and he said, ‘You listen to me, sir. I had my second team out there. I don’t want to hear it.’

“I said, ‘No, no, no, no. I’m just telling you, I saw a full-court press with a minute and half left with the score 48-6. Now, I’m not trying to get in your face, and maybe that idea is in the old days, and maybe the game has changed, but you just don’t try to show up the other team. That’s all I’m saying.”

That’s all Edina boy’s basketball head coach Pat Dorsey is saying after the fact, as well.

“I didn’t like that score either,” said Dorsey. “But I want our kids playing hard, and a sign of respect for the other team is playing hard. I’ve been on the other end of that score when we’ve lost to Hopkins by 30 or something, and you try to make sure you maintain sportsmanship.

“But I watched the film of the game, and there was no full-court press, just good defense. And it all came with [the Minnesota State High School League’s so-called mercy rule, which says the clock switches to running time when a team is up by 30 points]. Hard to say, but I wouldn’t want my team out there; it was definitely not the kind of competitive atmosphere you want in a good basketball game.”

It’s hard to know for sure what a scoreboard says about the character of a team on the long end of a score. Two years ago, for example, I profiled the Wrenshall girl’s basketball team, which made national news because it lost a game 65-0.

Tucked into that profile was this nugget about the attitude of the opposing teams:

“Some of them personally walk up to you and shake your hand and tell you what you’ve been doing good at,” she says. “Even some of the parents have walked up to me and told me my team has lots of spirit and they’ve been giving their hearts to it.” Opposing coaches have also counseled the kids.

Hopefully, the kids, coaches, and parents at Lakeville South did the same thing.

(h/t: Kevin Bohan)

  • This is NOT lucy

    Does anyone else taste the slight notes of ruthless capitalism embedded into the indoctrination of the message “respecting by playing hard” ?

  • John P.

    I see, so now we respect our opponents by rubbing their face in the ground after we pin them. Our society is doomed.

  • Patrick

    Hey Bob, it was actually Justin Kloos, top Gopher recruit, that scored with 15 seconds left. The box scores from the Hub are notoriously wrong.

  • Patrick

    Hey Bob, it was actually Justin Kloos, top Gopher recruit, that scored with 15 seconds left. The box scores from the Hub are notoriously wrong.

  • Wendy

    I don’t think respecting your opponent has anything to do with it. I think any reasons for it are very self-centered.