Before I make comments on the Kentucky-Ole Miss game, I want to comment on the overall state of sports in general, mostly a high school girls game in Texas that has created a lot of controversy.
Covenant School in Dallas, Texas managed to hand Dallas Academy, a small private school that caters to students with learning disabilities, a 100-0 embarrassment of a loss. After refusing to apologize for running up the score, Kyle Queal, the coach of the Covenant school, was dismissed.
The losing team has received much affection from the public and the media and you almost have to wonder how much of it is warranted. In addition, the girls were given a luxury suite at a WNBA game. The winning team lost its coach and has come under intense ridicule.
For the record, I realize that some of the girls on the team may have been special needs children, but the fact of the matter is, this game should have never been scheduled or agreed in principle to start with. Before you get on your high horse and criticize Covenant, remember that it takes two to tango. Dallas Academy should have realized going in that they would likely have been in a situation similar to this before they decided to play a superior team. In addition, Covenant should not have scheduled Dallas Academy because there is no benefit to playing a team that you are going to walk all over.
Any time you look at high school sports, especially basketball, you always want to schedule teams early on that can give you a better chance to examine yourself and prepare ultimately for championships. I followed Rose Hill for the two years OJ Mayo starred and watched Rose Hill take on teams in-state that were powerhouses. They weren't overly successful, but it eventually led them to their first and only trip to Rupp Arena. This game did not serve a purpose for either team and it is unfortunate that as a result, we are led to debate whether or not mediocrity should be accepted in sports.
If you want further proof, just examine the divisions based on class sizes. In Kentucky especially, schools have been divided into public and private, and the divisions are divided based on the class sizes. For example, where I am originally from in northeastern Kentucky in the 16th region, Ashland is the largest school in the district and has been moved to a new district, playing teams all over the state from Tates Creek and Bryant Station to Pikeville. The famous Boyd County-Ashland inner city rivalry now doesn't have the same impact as it does every season.
Schools such as Rose Hill, Lexington Catholic, and the private schools in Louisville have paved the way to the cries of foul by public schools, and as a result it is now set up to where every child gets a trophy, and the true sports fans will never really know the true champion. If you look at college basketball, this is what March Madness is all about, as we get to see a Cinderella such as George Mason or Davidson shock the world. We like pulling for the underdogs, but now the way the system is set up, it eliminates that.
It's been said that high school sports was fine until adults got involved. Looking at some other cases I have seen personally, I would have to agree:
- In Kentucky, a story that will likely make bigger news in the near future is the death of a student due to overheating similar to Korey Stringer of the Minnesota Vikings. Pleasure Ridge Park coach David Jason Stinson was indicted for the death of 15 year old Max Gilpin. This could be a dangerous precedent to set, but I fully understand the reasoning. However, it will be interesting to see what else transpires.
- A story in Kentucky that I know all too well growing up. Former Greenup County basketball coach Randy Ward, after winning the first game in state at Rupp Arena during the semifinals, decided to take the team to Hooters after the game to celebrate. He then tried to defend himself by saying Hooters was a "family restaurant", which became a punchline for Jay Leno. The parents were up in arms over this, but not for the reason you might think. A lot of parents were dissatisfied with Coach Ward's style of play and decided to use "Hootergate" to axe the coach. However, Coach Ward was able to keep his job until he was eventually fired in a recruiting incident that landed Greenup County on probation with the KHSAA.
- Another story that is more disturbing that is similar, but happened here in West Virginia at Parkersburg High School. Former coach Marshall Burdette had allegations brought against him that he had propositioned some of the players that had played for him and as a result was forced to resign. As with Coach Ward, some of these players parents were unhappy with the way Coach Burdette was handling the team and wanted a new coach, however there is some question as to the legitimacy of the complaints. Burdette assistant Craig Farnsworth took over the team and led them to a state championship and decided not to take it, even with full booster support, over the way Coach Burdette was handled.