Nick Stevens

Stone's suspension never should have happened

Posted November 4, 2010

Douglas Byrd football coach Russell Stone was suspended this week by Leon Mack, the student activities director for Cumberland County Schools, for running up the score last week on Southern Lee.

Byrd defeated the Cavaliers 75-7.

Did they run up the score on Southern Lee? I don't know, I wasn't at the game. But frankly, it doesn't matter.

I've been on both sides of blowouts. I've taken them, and I've delivered them. Getting beat like that is no fun, but in the end a team has to realize that a 50, 60 or 70-point loss is still only counted as one loss, and they have to have the character to bounce back. Getting beat bad tests a teams character, and that's part of sports.

If you've followed me over the past several years, you know how I feel about running up the score. I'm not very sympathetic to the argument. Personally I feel like if I'm on defense it's my job to stop the offense, it's not the offense's job to stop themselves for me. If I'm still playing my game, I want my opponent to play it's game. Plus, it feels much more demeaning to me to have a team slack up on my team.

But again, all of this is beside the point.

Whether you believe Douglas Byrd ran up the score or not, one thing cannot be argued - there is no rule about running up the score.

Leon Mack went overboard with the suspension of Stone. You can read through the N.C. High School Athletic Association handbook from cover to cover and you won't find a single mention about "running up the score."

There is no definition for running up the score, so how do you punish someone - especially with something as severe as a suspension - for something that's not against the rules and is not defined by the governing body of the sport?

This sets a dangerous precedent for coaches of all sports, not just football, and not just in Cumberland County.

What is the definition of running up the score? Your definition may be (and probably is) different from mine. Mack's definition may be different than the definition an authority figure in Wake County has, and the same person in Durham County may have a different definition.

How can someone be fairly punished for something that's not defined?

They can't be.

If Mack, or anyone else inside Cumberland County Schools, believes Stone showed unsportsmanlike character and ran up the score against Southern Lee, thereby humiliating the Cavalier players, then Stone should have been talked to. But suspending a coach for something that isn't defined and isn't a rule is unfair to the coach, the team, and to the rest of the community because of the precedent it sets.

We'll see where it takes us, but if running up the score is truly a big concern at the competitive level of high school athletics, perhaps we should move to a slaughter rule like they use in Pop Warner to prevent such scores from happening.

12 Comments

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  • runey69 Nov 10, 2010

    WhySoMad, please. Just please. So what, just take knees the entire half? Tell your 3rd string kids not to try?

    I mean, it's not their fault the other team is THAT bad.

  • itsnotmeiswear Nov 8, 2010

    I think the most important thing we can teach our kids with sports is sportsmanship, but part of sportsnamship is sometimes taking a beating you deserve. I disagree with the suspension. The turnovers of the other team was the most deciding factor in the final score not the actions or game planning of the winning coach.

    In contrast, I watched a girls middle school basketball game last year that where the actions of the coach did deserve a suspension. The score was 35-2 at half time and the winning coach still had his startes in the game and was pressing full court. In the second half the refs had a conversation with the coach which he did not appreciate. The refs started calling walking on the other team every time they touched the ball until the coach took out his starters. Parents on both sides applauded the move. The coach should have lost his job.

  • WhysoMad Nov 7, 2010

    Nick, I usually agree with you, but not this time. I fail to see how getting beat by 66 points is going to help any football player. I wasn't at the game, and I'm glad, so I don't know what the coach did or didn't do. I too have been on both sides of some serious whippings. Maybe I'm the strange one here, but I didn't find it fun or fulfilling being on either side in those situations. I think a lot of fans lose sight that this is high school athletics and it seems we should be teaching these young men something about sportsmanship...not extracting some kind of revenge or whatever it was that caused the coach to run the score up.

  • six72000 Nov 6, 2010

    Maybe they should just stop allowing the offense to have the ball and give the losing team numerous opportunities to score.....Or better yet have the defense take a knee and allow the loosing team to score once they get to a certain point level....
    Man please...I'm so sick of these administrators and parents trying to soften the blow of athletics for kids in ALL SPORTS at EVERY level. Losing builds character and creates work ethic. That's why a lot of kids of today do not have a work ethic cause they have been babied their entire athletic career. Then they get to college and can't perform because they don't know how to work. Beating a team has nothing to do with class or sportsmanship but everything to do with preparation. Who's ready to play and who's not period so if you give up 75 points in a football game. Don't suspend the winning coach FIRE the losing one!

  • tarheelfan41 Nov 5, 2010

    Here's an idea, suspend the kids on SLee for quitting. Or their coach for not getting them properly prepared.

  • codystrait Nov 5, 2010

    Leon Mack should be the one suspended for making up his own rules. Should Byrd just quit and start taking a knee at the start of the second half? It wouldn't suprise me to see Byrd lay a beat down on UP tonight too. Play the game as you are taught. If you have kids in the game that hardly ever played and they still take it to you, then blame yourself, not the other team. I commend Southern Lee's coach Tom Paris for his remarks, 'we got beat', end of story.

  • andrewsm Nov 5, 2010

    I talked to one of the officials who worked that game and he said Byrd tried many combinations to get kids in the game. He said they had a kid who must have weighed close to 300 pounds playing safety a few plays and had no idea what to do in the position. As far as Southern Lee is concerned "some days your the hammer", today they were the nail. Other than fall down with the ball, what do you expect a senior to do who has not played very much and this may be his last opportunity to play in a game. To do anything less that your best, would be an insult to your opponent. This suspension is yet another step in changing the game we played as kids and follow as adults. Shame on you Leon Mack.

  • antwaing Nov 5, 2010

    What would he do if say a Durham county or Wake County school ran up the score on a Cumberland County school? I'm just saying.

  • ACCInsider Nov 5, 2010

    Even Southern Lee's coach Tom Paris was surprised by the suspension: "You're kidding. We got beat. It doesn't matter to me if you get beat by 7 or 70. A loss is a loss." Douglas Byrd was up 21-0 but only had 5 yards of offense at that time. They kept intercepting the ball and running it in for a touchdown. Byrd was up 55-0 at the half. Since it was Senior Night Byrd allowed seniors who had never caught a ball to play the 2nd half. Byrd had 150 yards passing for the game - those are real run up the score passing numbers. Southern Lee's defense was allowing 45 pts per game this year. They had already played 2 other Cumberland Co teams who had scored 63 and 50 pts - but Leon Mack gave no warnings or suspensions for those games. If this was such a concern to Mack then he should have immediately voiced concerns. So it was Leon Mack who failed at doing his job by not performing the most important management requirement - communication.

  • deltabhd Nov 5, 2010

    I agree with this article totally. Is this what Cumberland County wants to be known as in high school athletics? What if this was another coach in Cumberland County? Would Mr. Mack do the same thing? What is good for the goose is good for the gander...to quote a well known phrase.

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