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.