MODESTO — Thanks to all for the terrific response to my blog query about whether it would be proper in a 60-0 basketball game for the winning team to step aside and let the other team score.
The overwhelming majority of responses sided with the notion that it wouldn’t be sporting or appropriate in any situation to give up a mercy basket.
I was especially pleased to get notes from parents who attended that particular game, and also from coaches who have had teams on both sides of the situation.
I promised a personal story that pretty much tells why I choose one side of the discussion over the other, so here goes:
In my sophomore year of high school, I chose to play tennis instead of baseball for reasons I really don’t remember. I worked my way up the varsity ladder quickly and won the right to play first singles in the season’s first match.
We went up against a private school, with a team roster that included kids who had years of club and age-group experience. My playing experience was against school friends and teammates - kids my age whose parents happened to own a tennis racquet.
I got beat 6-0, 6-0 by a senior who never even went to his towel. I was humiliated and embarrassed, and in shaking my opponent’s hand at the net I apologized for not being ready to give him a better match.
I think he grunted a response.
But while he pounded my weak second serve and came to the net at will to deliver the beating, I wasn’t wishing that he’d let me win a game (or even let a game get to 30-30.) I do remember thinking that I needed to get a lot better if I wanted to have a chance to win at that level.
So I agree with the people who think it’s not right for a team to step aside and let the other team score just for the sake of appearances, that there’s nothing to be gained by such a gesture.
And what did I really learn from my tennis experience?
I continued to play tennis with friends for many years, but in the spring of my junior year I was back on the baseball diamond.