Find My Team >>

Log in to High School OT with one click using your favorite social network:
OR
Log in using your High School OT account:



Wrong email/password combination.

Forgot password?

Register with High School OT using your favorite social network:
OR
Register for a High School OT account using our web form.
Log In
Register

Nick Stevens

Mercy rule doesn't accomplish goals, teaches wrong lessons

Published: 2014-04-30 13:37:00
Updated: 2014-04-30 14:07:40


Apr 30, 2014

Football: East Wake vs. Millbrook (Sept. 6, 2013)

Millbrook QB (14) Reid Herring hands the ball off. Millbrook defeats East Wake 20 to 14 Friday night September 6, 2013. (Photo by Jack Tarr)

High school sports are about teaching life lessons. They're about instilling qualities that people need to be successful for the rest of their lives.

That's what makes high school sports so important and so valuable.

But the lessons taught through a mercy rule aren't the lessons we should be teaching.

The N.C. High School Athletic Association passed a measure that introduces mercy rules to high school football and basketball in North Carolina effective next school year. In football, the magic number is 42. For basketball the threshold is 40. At that point (as long as it is after halftime), the game can either be ended by mutual agreement or a running clock will be used.

Mercy rules are for young kids who are just learning about competition, sports, and life. High school kids aren't part of that population. They're no more than four years away from entering the "real world," whether it is in school or in work.

In real life there are no mercy rules. If you get beat at work, you get beat. There is no one to say, "Oh, that's bad enough. Let's call it quits." That's not how the real life works.

First things first, the new mercy rules only mandate what teams had the option of doing before. And that option has been utilized. With a mutual agreement between both coaches, teams have always had the option of moving to a running clock. And sometimes that happened before a 42-point mark was reached.

The new rule gives a milestone for players to shoot for, and don't think they won't. The goal now won't be to just win, the goal will be to win by more than 42 so they can say they "mercy ruled" the other team. Essentially, this rule is encouraging teams to blow other teams out. That's the great irony in this story.

With all that said, forcing a mercy rule on teams sends bad messages. When you're losing by a lot, do you want to tell your kids that it's OK to quit? I don't think quitting when life gets tough is the message we want to send.I don't think accepting you're not supposed to be on the same field as the other team is a good message either.

We should be teaching our kids to compete, to fight, to not back down, even when the cards are stacked against them.

That's my biggest issue with the whole idea of a mercy rule. Especially in a sport where there is a clock, where eventually the time will run out. I understand why a mercy rule is needed in a sport like baseball or softball where there aren't timed periods. In baseball, the game may never end without a mercy rule of some sort.

Another issue I have though is the opportunity that is taken away from some of the kids.

On every team there are players who come to workouts, who work hard at practice, who are dedicated teammates, but who aren't able to see much time – if any – on the field or court. Lopsided games are when those kids get playing time. And those kids deserve playing time. A running clock will greatly limit those opportunities.

A running clock is not a new idea. It has been done for years in games that warrant them, but only if coaches agree to do so. The NCHSAA has created a red line though. It's a benchmark that teams will now aim for.

Why can't we trust the good people we have as coaches to do the right thing? Do we really have that many episodes of blatant unsportsmanlike conduct where coaches keep their starters in play after play, series after series, just to embarrass the other team? I've been around high school sports enough to know the answer to that question is "no."

Are there some who have done that? Yes. But they're in the minority, and they can be held accountable by their administrations. 

The rationale given at the board meeting for the creation of the mercy rule? "Lessons of sportsmanship will be taught and learned."

No. Sportsmanship isn't forced. It can't be forced. That's called rule following. Sportsmanship is taught and learned, then sportsmanship is executed when the rules don't require it. Teaching and learning sportsmanship would be discouraging blatant blowouts voluntarily, not legislating it.

Setting a mercy rule for sports like football and basketball though, it's not needed. It's overkill. And it accomplishes nothing positive.

Follow Nick Stevens on Twitter @NickStevensHSOT

Poll

Do you support the new mercy rule in high school football & basketball?

 




See Results   •   Disclaimer

Back to Nick Stevens
COMMENTS

2 Comments



page 1
sort order: oldest first | newest first

"Sportsmanship is taught and learned, then sportsmanship is executed when the rules don't require it. Teaching and learning sportsmanship would be discouraging blatant blowouts voluntarily, not legislating it." NS

And if coaches were doing this, we wouldn't have this rule, would we? I can appreciate the fact that kids should be taught to fight & never back down in certain situations. However, HS football is not being played out on a battlefield, Nick. It's a sporting event & I'm pretty sure that a team losing 42-0 at the half is not going to learn much by having the superior team drop another 28 or 35 points on 'em in the 2nd half. Coaches generally have a good idea as to when IT'S OVER & some can't seem to throttle down. Good rule for now!
BB5
May 3, 2014 11:01 p.m.
• Report abuse

mercy rules make sense in untimed games that can virtually go on forever when the teams are significantly mismatched (baseball, softball, etc). But timed games? Un-needed.
Tarheeled
May 2, 2014 1:20 a.m.
• Report abuse

page 1
sort order: oldest first | newest first

This blog post is closed for comments.

Blogs
*
More HSOT Today
*
More On The Trail
HighSchoolOT Forums
More HighSchoolOT Forums
  1. HighSchoolOT: Having dinner? Good. You'll want to be well fed for our 24 Hours of HS Football which starts in 6 hours! #HSOT24
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 6:00 PM
  2. ZachMayoHSOT: RT @jgravleyWRAL: Need some high school football knowledge? 24 hours of HS Fball begins tonight at midnight on http://t.co/xPENB0Y2iY .
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 5:55 PM
  3. ZachMayoHSOT: So thankful that the day before #HSOT24 is also Watermelon Day at @WRAL. First healthy thing I've eaten all week. http://t.co/Wv90WbdPBg
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 5:49 PM
  4. Chris__Edwards: Feel like the #Braves got better today. Really like that Russell isn't a FA after this season and Bonifiacio gives the bench a spark, IMO.
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 5:09 PM
  5. ZachMayoHSOT: RT @HighSchoolOT: It's 5:00. Do you know where your helmet is? You've got 7 hours to find it. Football season started in 7 hours!! #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 5:07 PM
  6. JamesAlverson: RT @DaddyTub: There's a prayer vigil tonight at 7pm for Jaylend Ratliffe at Pate Stadium.
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 5:05 PM
  7. HighSchoolOT: RT @ZachMayoHSOT: My story on @SDurhamFootball and the Spartans' big expectations will air tonight on our LIVE midnight show on
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 5:02 PM
  8. HighSchoolOT: It's 5:00. Do you know where your helmet is? You've got 7 hours to find it. Football season started in 7 hours!! #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 5:00 PM
  9. NickStevensHSOT: It's watermelon day at @wral today. I think it's a #hsot24 special. http://t.co/aOIHuqOj5H
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:41 PM
  10. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: Just finished my script for tonight's LIVE #HSOT24 kickoff show. It's jam-packed with content, so don't miss it. Midni…
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:30 PM
  11. ZachMayoHSOT: My story on @SDurhamFootball and the Spartans' big expectations will air tonight on our LIVE midnight show on http://t.co/y3Y4SEuugK.
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:29 PM
  12. NickStevensHSOT: Just finished my script for tonight's LIVE #HSOT24 kickoff show. It's jam-packed with content, so don't miss it. Midnight on @HighSchoolOT!
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:27 PM
  13. NickStevensHSOT: Getting ready for my live show tonight at midnight as we kickoff the HS football season with you. #HSOT24
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:05 PM
  14. HighSchoolOT: We hope you'll join us for our 24 Hours of HS Football at midnight... We're just 8 hours away from that & the start of the football season!
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:00 PM
  15. HighSchoolOT: Throughout our 24 Hours of Football tomorrow use the hashtag #HSOT24 to join in on the conversation! #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:57 PM
  16. HighSchoolOT: 24 Hours of High School Football starts at midnight http://t.co/OgR76FxGnC
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:31 PM
  17. NickStevensHSOT: RT @HighSchoolOT: Want to know what we have coming up on #HSOT24? Here's our rundown: http://t.co/phjS5aL3Wo #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:30 PM
  18. ZachMayoHSOT: 24 whole hours of football deliciousness. Here's the menu. http://t.co/wSKNWY3gK7
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:30 PM
  19. HighSchoolOT: Want to know what we have coming up on #HSOT24? Here's our rundown: http://t.co/phjS5aL3Wo #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:16 PM
  20. Chris__Edwards: Not been a good day on the trade front for the #Braves Then again, it hasn't been a very good month.
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:14 PM
  21. HighSchoolOT: SINGLE DIGITS! Only 9 more hours left in the summer, because at midnight, it's officially football season! #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:00 PM
  22. HighSchoolOT: We're almost to the single digits!! Only 10 hours until we can finally say it is football season in NC! #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 2:00 PM
  23. NickStevensHSOT: I get that a lot RT @BCHanks: .@NickStevensHSOT is a bad man!
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:50 PM
  24. JamesAlverson: RT @PBCYoungAdult: Preview Night for YA Sunday @ 6:00 will be held at the Epley's house not the Fellowship Hall. If you need the address e…
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:35 PM
  25. NickStevensHSOT: Love that my two columns have sparked a much-needed conversation in basketball. Only way to fix it is to talk and act. Don't sit quiet.
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:00 PM
  26. HighSchoolOT: We promise we'll stop the count down at midnight. Only 11 more hours until football season & our 24 Hours of HS Football get started! #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:00 PM
  27. HighSchoolOT: RT @ZachMayoHSOT: During #HSOT24, we'll unveil our first 2014 football polls. For a preview, here were MY top five votes (in no order):
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 12:25 PM
  28. ZachMayoHSOT: During #HSOT24, we'll unveil our first 2014 football polls. For a preview, here were MY top five votes (in no order): http://t.co/mk4NKQMhwR
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 12:20 PM
  29. HighSchoolOT: Coaches announced for 2015 East-West All-Star games http://t.co/Vv3dAU3BE1
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 12:14 PM
  30. HighSchoolOT: Good afternoon! We are halfway through the day. That means just 12 hours left until football season is here! #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 12:00 PM
  31. ZachMayoHSOT: Oh, I'm hype. RT @WakefieldWackos: The football season kicks off in less than a month. GET HYPEEEEEE!!!! #August29th
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 11:36 AM
  32. HighSchoolOT: RT @ZachMayoHSOT: Congrats to Jimmy Williams, Michael Hobgood, Clarence Inscore and the rest of our All-Star coaches: http://t.co/voNeXP6340
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 11:28 AM
  33. ZachMayoHSOT: Congrats to Jimmy Williams, Michael Hobgood, Clarence Inscore and the rest of our All-Star coaches: http://t.co/voNeXP6340
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 11:27 AM
  34. HighSchoolOT: ALERT: Coaches announced for 2015 NCCA East-West All-Star games http://t.co/riW9Q5P2O3
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 11:22 AM
  35. Chris__Edwards: Of all the teams in the Lester sweepstakes, I never expected Oakland to land him. HUGE!
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 11:13 AM
  36. HighSchoolOT: Only one more AM hour left. Only 13 hours left until football season gets started. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 11:00 AM
  37. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: Millbrook's Chris East named NC head girls basketball coach for NC-SC All-Star Game in 2015. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:42 AM
  38. NickStevensHSOT: Millbrook's Chris East named NC head girls basketball coach for NC-SC All-Star Game in 2015. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:42 AM
  39. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: Amy Green of DSA will coach the East All-Stars girls soccer team in 2015. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:41 AM
  40. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: Bennie Howard of Richmond will coach the East All-Stars boys soccer team in 2015. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:41 AM