Style Points Versus Sportsmanship

Style Points Versus Sportsmanship

Parents get their kids involved in sports for many reasons. Some want to relive their glory days through their kids. Some want to keep their kids off the streets. And studies have shown that kids involved in sports are less likely to get involved with drugs. College scholarships are another great reason for involvement in sports.

And some want their children to learn sportsmanship, where most try to teach sportsmanship. Or at least we used to. I remember being taught that there was such a thing as good winners and bad winners. And there was such a thing as good losers and bad losers. One was considered a bad winner for running up the score or taunting an opponent.

When first starting out in sports, as young children, everyone gets a trophy. And that’s a whole different column for me because I don’t believe every one wins equally.  However, once they reach college the story changes. Colleges that excel on the field bring in donations. Big donations. And donors want to go to the blue ribbon bowl games.  Once a team has six wins it is bowl eligible.  The bowl invitation depends upon the team’s conference membership, record and strength of schedule.

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This thing called “Style Points” in college football goes against every grain of sportsmanship that I was taught. Teams that may be on the border for gaining an invitation to a “bigger and better” bowl game will run up the score on lesser opponents to “prove” that they deserve the bowl invitation. These points help improve the team’s rank within the computer standings.

But style points are dangerous to a team’s top players. In order to run up the score, the best players are left in games long after they should have been removed. Taking a team’s best players out of the game protects them from injury, while it also allows younger or perhaps slightly less talented players to develop for the future. So, playing for style points is a short sighted practice, as well.

“Style Points” Final Scores  

November 8, 2014

Minnesota over Iowa 51 – 14

Oregon over Utah 51 – 27

November 1, 2014

Baylor over Kansas 60 – 14

Ohio State over Illinois 55 -14

October 25, 2014

TCU over Texas Tech 82 -27

Football Clip Art copy

Take a second look at that last game with TCU scoring 82 points. Scoring, say,  50 points wasn’t enough? What did these athletes learn? Winning isn’t enough. But winning with style is critical when an opponent is less talented. What else? Bowl game status is more important than player safety.

And by the way, I’m quite competitive. And when I was less confident, if I couldn’t win, I didn’t play because I couldn’t bear losing. So, yes, I like to win and I value competition, as it teaches one to practice. By practicing, one’s skills improve and one will win, maybe not every game.  But winning at all costs is not an admirable goal. Winning when you beat your closest competitor while they are playing at their best, now that’s winning with style.

Pictures courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art.

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