Firing a Bad Coach: Good; Honoring Bad Players: Notsagood

Dr. James Naismith.jpg
Something tells me the inventor of basketball planned neither on 100-0 winners nor 100-point-loser celebrities.

I just threw up in my Raisin Bran.

Now, where'd I ... put ... my ... ah, there it is ... soap box.

America has gone softer than Bob Dole without his Viagra and it makes me sick. In short, on ABC's Good Morning America Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer are taking a team of local high school girls basketball players and putting them on a national pedastal as heroes that deserve "praise for their poise and grace against an overwhelming opponent."

So what did the girls from Dallas Academy do to earn this prestigious recognition? They lost a game.

100-0.

Short version: Dallas Academy, a private school near White Rock Lake whose students have "learning differences" and which hasn't won a game in four years, lost to Covenant School, a North Dallas Christian school, on Jan. 13 by the God-awful score of A-Century-to-Zippo.

The result is inexcusable. Despicable. As he should have been, Covenant head coach Micah Grimes has been fired. He not only ran up the score, then had the audacity to stand by his lack of sportsmanship even as the school issued an apology.

Clearly, Grimes' team was superior. That point got hammered home at what, 30-0? 50-0? 88-0? As a coach there are ways - not shooting until after 20 passes, for example - to work on your team's game without necessarily scoring.

But, at the risk of being politically incorrect and insensitive, the coach/leadership at Dallas Academy deserves just as much of the blame. Why?

For agreeing to allow the team to be further humiliated on national TV.

Shame on the Today Show and GMA and CNN for exploiting these girls amidst a sappy, milk-toasty puddle of over-exaggerated sympathy. For its grand "achievement", Dallas Academy has appeared on GMA twice, CBS' Early Show, the Today Show and a visit to Ellen is likely. Even more shame on Dallas Academy for accepting the whirlwind media tour on the heels of a horrible loss.

There are real heroes all around us, right Sully Sullenberger? Why, as Americans, do we fall into this trap of affording celebrity to those who have done nothing other than embarrass themselves?

I was in Portland in 2003 for a Mavericks' playoff game in which a 13-year-old girl forgot the words to the National Anthem and melted into a tearful mess before Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks "heroically" helped her get through it. In the same series, a 10-year-old boy sang the anthem flawlessly at American Airlines Center. Guess which kid became a national celebrity, appearing on Jay Leno?

Does William Hung ring a bell?

And there are millions in this country who saved and sacrificed and took a third job in order to pay their mortgage on time. But it's the others - who simply gave up and lost to their banks by the equivalent of 100-0 - whom the government decided to bail out.

It's a troubling trend to say the least. We're in the midst of raising the softest generation of children in the history of America.

Our kids play video games, and if they "lose" - a man or a game or a car or whatever - they either consult their "cheat codes" or simply hit "new game" and presto, failure avoided. Same with our sports. No matter their level of enthusiasm or committment or development or performance, kids in our youth leagues are receiving Participation Plaques.

Just like the girls from Dallas Academy, we're rewarding our youth with a false sense of accomplishment.

Valuable lessons can be learned from losing, but not if they're sugar-coated with Participation Plaques or appearances on national television.

Grimes should be on GMA right now so the hosts can spew venom at him for his inexplicable lack of sportsmanship. But having the girls on sends a horrible and dangerous message. Lose by 40, go home and get better. Lose by 100, go on TV and be a star!

I imagine a similar team with similar "learning differences" and similar talent sitting at home, wondering WTF? If they practiced harder and learned more and got better and lost their game only, say, 74-8, why are they watching another team get honored on TV?

It's disgusting, really.

What I'd like to read about is that the team that lost 100-0 used it as motivation. They practiced. They learned. They improved. And the next time Dallas Academy played Covenant they lost only 88-6. Now that's a heroic story of persistance and pride worth glorifying.

But we're not ever going to hear it. Why? Because Dallas Academy canceled it's game this Friday against Covenant. In fact, its headmaster said - I kid you not - "the hell with it" and threw in the towel on the whole season.

The moral to the story: Lose by 100. Quit. Become a celebrity.

My breakfast isn't the only thing that's ruined.

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