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. ZachMayoHSOT: Random football thought as I work all night on #HSOT24... Circle Hunt vs. Fike on Nov. 7 as one of the Top 5 best games of this season.
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 9:59 PM
  2. ZachMayoHSOT: So, no more championship football at UNC, but ALL championship basketball in Chapel Hill this season. http://t.co/OJMTfYUyIw
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 6:16 PM
  3. ZachMayoHSOT: I'm going to rank all 150+ teams in our coverage area as the best team this preseason. Then I'm not biased towards anyone! #science
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 5:55 PM
  4. HighSchoolOT: Changes made to NCHSAA football, basketball, baseball championships http://t.co/clsZRgLUHj
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 5:45 PM
  5. NickStevensHSOT: Having dinner with the one and only Tom Suiter. Almost time for #FootballFriday!
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 5:34 PM
  6. NickStevensHSOT: Basketball state champs can't be at Reynolds while the facility is being renovated. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 5:22 PM
  7. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: NCHSAA Commissioner Davis Whitfield says the basketball state champs will be at Dean Dome & Carmichael at UNC next sea…
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 5:22 PM
  8. NickStevensHSOT: NCHSAA Commissioner Davis Whitfield says the basketball state champs will be at Dean Dome & Carmichael at UNC next season. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 5:21 PM
  9. HighSchoolOT: 24 Hours of HS Football starts one week from tomorrow (at 12:01 AM) on http://t.co/9qqseesaE4. Be sure to tune in! #HSOT #HSOT24
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 4:55 PM
  10. ZachMayoHSOT: Oh no. @NickStevensHSOT wants football polls. Let the angry messages begin. #FootballSeason #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 4:22 PM
  11. Chris__Edwards: RT @Duke_BASE: .@MStrooo7 dealing against the Red Sox, tossing a no-hitter through 6. 7 Ks, 2 BBs & 91 pitches for the former Blue Devil. #…
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 3:55 PM
  12. Chris__Edwards: RT @ACCBaseball: Hey @Duke_BASE fans: http://t.co/3Iz6XbiznA
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 3:55 PM
  13. Chris__Edwards: RT @ACCBaseball: RT @NCAACWS: Baseball Rules Committee recommends changes to help umpires get calls right: http://t.co/eP8rbUTBeA
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 2:08 PM
  14. NickStevensHSOT: RT @HighSchoolOT: Story from @NickStevensHSOT on @LeesvillePride's @intangiblechild becoming an all-star: http://t.co/TbucSPQbxW
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:58 PM
  15. HighSchoolOT: Story from @NickStevensHSOT on @LeesvillePride's @intangiblechild becoming an all-star: http://t.co/TbucSPQbxW http://t.co/xcg3TNsvlt
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:56 PM
  16. JamesAlverson: RT @HighSchoolOT: ALERT: NCHSAA won't hold football state finals at UNC this year; baseball finals won't be played at NC State
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:34 PM
  17. HighSchoolOT: ALERT: NCHSAA won't hold football state finals at UNC this year; baseball finals won't be played at NC State http://t.co/kaAOgglGNM
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:31 PM
  18. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: Whitfield also said Doak Field at #NCSU will not be a baseball state championship location. Likely to move to Greensbo…
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:22 PM
  19. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield does expect #UNC to return to the rotation in the future. Construction at UNC this…
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:22 PM
  20. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: NCHSAA says football state champs this year will be at #NCSU and #WakeForest, but NOT #UNC. Games on Friday & Saturday…
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:22 PM
  21. NickStevensHSOT: Whitfield also said Doak Field at #NCSU will not be a baseball state championship location. Likely to move to Greensboro instead. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:22 PM
  22. NickStevensHSOT: NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield does expect #UNC to return to the rotation in the future. Construction at UNC this year though. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:21 PM
  23. NickStevensHSOT: NCHSAA says football state champs this year will be at #NCSU and #WakeForest, but NOT #UNC. Games on Friday & Saturday. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:21 PM
  24. HighSchoolOT: After stepping up for Leesville, Hitchcock becomes an all-star http://t.co/XyLepgP6yU
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:04 PM
  25. HSOTPAC6: EAST CHAPEL HILL: East-West All-Star Football Game (July 23, 2014) http://t.co/o8qvtS5SLF
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:04 PM
  26. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: Here's my story on @intangiblechild's road to becoming an all-star. Video inside: http://t.co/K7pg3eQvzR #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:51 PM
  27. HSOTCap8: LEESVILLE: After stepping up for Leesville, Hitchcock becomes an all-star http://t.co/d4R7qizKF9 #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:48 PM
  28. HSOTCap8: LEESVILLE: Stevens: Pride's Hitchcock played his way to all-star game http://t.co/iEkOJXaTF4 #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:48 PM
  29. NickStevensHSOT: Here's my story on @intangiblechild's road to becoming an all-star. Video inside: http://t.co/K7pg3eQvzR #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:47 PM
  30. HighSchoolOT: STORY: Leesville's Hitchcock stepped up when his team needed him most & played his way into the all-star game: http://t.co/0voppEFYuj
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:37 PM
  31. JamesAlverson: Triangle Pigskin Preview coming up on @999TheFan at 1 as coaches from ECU, NCSU, UNC, Duke & NCCU have a little fun http://t.co/tg7cyT2z7X
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:17 PM
  32. HighSchoolOT: PHOTOS: East & West football all-stars tie after West hits FG with no time left: http://t.co/p0Y2hWlb4M #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:16 AM
  33. HighSchoolOT: VIDEO INTERVIEW: Marcelius Sutton of James Kenan enjoyed the all-star game & all the people he met: http://t.co/pZr9WOOGSl
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:15 AM
  34. HighSchoolOT: VIDEO INTERVIEW: Clayton kicker Nick Christiansen talks about his experience at all-star week: http://t.co/kzS2vOUHgn
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:13 AM
  35. HighSchoolOT: VIDEO INTERVIEW: Leesville Road's Malcolm Hitchcock didn't expect to be playing at all-star week: http://t.co/luRB0IkNKw
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:11 AM
  36. HighSchoolOT: VIDEO: Here are the highlights from last nights all-star football game. See crazy play that led to East TD: http://t.co/9cM0uooJ1K #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:10 AM
  37. HighSchoolOT: STORY: East, West battle to 10-10 tie in all-star football; second tie in 66-year history: http://t.co/zD37z3SYQ7 #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:08 AM
  38. HighSchoolOT: RT @NickStevensHSOT: Just finished a feature on @LeesvillePride's East All-Star Malcolm Hitchcock (@intangiblechild). See it Thursday on @H
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 2:08 AM
  39. HighSchoolOT: RT @ZachMayoHSOT: The West finishes All-Star week with a 3-1-1 record over the East. Only East win was in men's soccer. #HSOT
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:15 AM
  40. HighSchoolOT: RT @ZachMayoHSOT: FINAL STORY: Last-second field goal leaves East-West football game in tie. http://t.co/0O9UhFBuRM
      — Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:15 AM