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Into the Record Books The Ugly Way

Which is more important: Fulfilling the dreams of a good kid who deserves to make his mark on the world, or upholding the honor and traditions that all the kids are learning to cherish?

In a small town in West Virginia, a high school football coach chose to go for the glory for one kid on his team, and his decision, chronicled today in Eli Saslow's Page One story about Matewan High School near the West Virginia-Kentucky border, has torn apart two coaches, two teams and two small towns, while giving anyone whose kids play sports something to think about.

Here's the problem in a nutshell: You have a kid on the team who's very good but probably has no future in football beyond high school. He's just not big enough to play at the next level. The kid dominates the early going in a lopsided game. You sense that if you throw out any thought of sportsmanship and focus your whole team on getting that one kid as many rushing opportunities as possible, he just might break the national record for rushing in a single game. Maybe that will propel the kid to college ball. Or maybe it will just give him a great memory as he ends his high school career.

So you do it. In the process, you humiliate the opposing team, reduce your own team to a supporting role in what really is little more than a stunt, and turn the game into one big ego show for the kid and, yes, the coach. Afterwards, the opposing team's coach is so disgusted, he won't even have his players perform the post-game ritual handshake.

There are several mania at work here: 1) The insane lust for records, which is evidenced in the ballooning of the high school record books.
2) The wild overemphasis of individual achievement in team sports (witness the unfortunate elevation of home runs into the most hyped aspect of baseball, or the ascendancy of the dunk and the three in basketball). 3) The celebration of victory at all costs.

But it's also worth noting that the Matewan High coach, the inaptly named Yogi Kinder, has been roundly criticized. Which indicates that there are many folks who don't buy into the above mania. Which is encouraging, except that another big problem in youth sports these days is exactly the opposite of what happened in West Virginia: In all too many sports in all too many places, we're seeing mandatory mercy rules imposed on kids, purportedly to save the hurt feelings caused when one team wins by too much.

In basketball, football, and many other sports, kids are being told that they have to withhold their excellence for fear of making the guys on the other side feel less than adequate. I've watched my own kids move through all levels of Little League and the only rule that they and their friends make, ahem, merciless fun of, the only rule that they all seem to find an appalling exercise of adult interference in the play of children is... the mercy rule.

The kids would much rather pull back on their own, quietly, subtly. They of course like to win, and win by a lot, but when it gets embarrassing, they know it, and they collectively move to ease off the accelerator. What galls them, however, is being required to do so, because that implies that without said rule, they'd pile up the runs till kingdom come.

And as the coach in West Virginia showed us, some people would. But not most, not even many. Somewhere in all this is, believe it or not, a happy medium. Isn't there?

By Marc Fisher |  October 6, 2006; 7:20 AM ET
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Interesting post on an interesting topic. Recently I was watching my 6 year old daughter play air hockey against a friend. When she went up 4-0 she would either knock the puck in her own goal or obviously let the shot go in. Until it became 4-3 and then she would score to win. Not sure how I feel about those actions. Since my family is normally hyper competitive about everything this probably isn't bad, but still not sure how I feel about it.

Posted by: Kevin | October 6, 2006 8:15 AM

Being competitive is great but the problem I have with this coach is how he went about getting the record for his player. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. He might have meant well but he sure went about it in a very bad way. It's ok to call a bunch of plays for your star player (after all the other team can play something called defense) but refusing to return punts just to get more yards for your RB doesn't sent the right message.

Posted by: Bart | October 6, 2006 8:23 AM

This coach is an idiot and ought to be fired. Youth sports are becoming more and more corrupt each day because of people like him. Winning is relative, and so are records.
No college coach will be seriously impressed by this ridiculous record. So what was it for again??? In the end, it will do more harm, then good.
I would not want this guy coaching my son. Fire him, and hire someone who knows respect.

Posted by: Unforgiving | October 6, 2006 8:47 AM

I fully agree that the coach's actions were wrong and demonstrate no sense of sportsmanship. That being said, I was bothered by the losing coach's calling what happened "unfair." As long as all of the games rules were follows, it was entirely fair - it just wasn't kind.

Posted by: Jason | October 6, 2006 8:51 AM

What I find most disturbing is the fact Coach Kinder went after this record intentionally. Kinder knew his opponent was weak so he preyed on that weakness which maked Kinder nothing more than a big bully. A coach is also a teacher and in this instance Kinder failed in his responsibilities to properly teach the young men in his charge. I can't think of a better reason to remove Coach Kinder from his job.

Posted by: Keith | October 6, 2006 8:53 AM

Did Hunt take out his varsity players when he know the games was out of hand? Usually the best way to give up without officially doing so is to send in the jayvee team. A 'varsity high school' record could hardly be considered such if the record comes against the subs.

Posted by: Joe | October 6, 2006 9:14 AM

The only part of this column that bothers me is the statements made about the mercy rules. Quite frankly the mercy rules were made for creepy coaches like this Kinder clown. These are folks that will run up a score for any reason and will do anything to encourage their players to do so.
The mercy rules weren't made for the kids. They are generally smart enough to back off on their own.
The coach that ran this up should be fired. He is supposed to be a teacher. He should be teaching integrity, sportsmanship and fair play, not win at any cost. It's no wonder that our government tends to think along these lines if we are teaching our kids the win-at-all-costs attitude.

Posted by: Bill | October 6, 2006 9:26 AM

Does anyone know if WV has the football version of the mercy rule (recomended by the national high school football association)? After a team goes up by 35, the clock runs continuously. It let the kids play hard, but also lets the losers get it over with as quickly as possible.

Posted by: J | October 6, 2006 9:36 AM

Call me old school, but a lot of this sounds like an ueber-sensitive urban intelligentsia venting its spleen at the fact that there are places where folks aren't all that ueber-sensitive. We can call Coach Kinder to task for going for the record, but when's the last time Matewan High School was mentioned in the Washington Post. We can grumble about an "obsession with records" but maybe records like this mean more to small town programs like this than they would to a Dematha. Let's not disregard his good intention of trying to get some attention for an unpublicized, but obviously very talented young kid.

And another thing, it's is generally considered good sportsmanship to run the ball when you get ahead because it is harder to pick up big chunks of yards running the ball. Generally when we say that teams are overmatched it's because there is a large, established program going against some small town. The article took great pains to show how these two schools are mirror images. Burch gave up so many rushing yards because they gave up. They should be embarrassed.

One more thing: about 10-15 years ago Notre Dame was way ahead against an SMU team that was just coming off probation. Late in the game Coach Lou Holtz instructed his players to run out of bounds or just fall down to avoid running up the score. And he was accused of making a mockery of the game.

Posted by: Paul | October 6, 2006 9:36 AM

The mercy rule struck conversation was interesting to me. There are mercy rules in college and international softball as well. Does this mean we are afraid that adults will be too competative? Or is it only a way to speed up games and not require them to last for an additional hour when the conclusion is forgone? I am not sure if there are men's sports with mercy rules - are they only for women so we "don't get our feelings hurt" like the youth? I suspect it is just to speed up play.

Posted by: Erica | October 6, 2006 9:47 AM

"We can call Coach Kinder to task for going for the record, but when's the last time Matewan High School was mentioned in the Washington Post." Exactly how is "getting mentioned in the Washington Post an ends unto itself, Paul. Mere mention in a national forum isn't always a good thing, and, when the reason for the mention is because the actions of its citizens is an ambarassment, then maybe

This isn't about "ueber[sic]-sensitivity", it's about common decency, and setting examples for our children, something that, from anectdotal observation, is in short supply.

Posted by: Voice of Reason | October 6, 2006 9:48 AM

The irony here is that in intending to give his player a moment of lasting glory, the coach brought on unintended infamy instead. The player, who had been of high character, was already a true champion based on his accomplishments to that point.

Posted by: V | October 6, 2006 9:51 AM

Sportsmanship norms have gone out the window in the ESPN "highlight" age.

That being said, there are lots of high school sports where developmental programs have created athletes of international caliber while still eligible to play Federation sports: Mia Hamm, Le Bron James, Kate Ziegler.

Too, there is this entitlement to victimology where teams perpetually finding themselves losing don't do anything to improve their programs, but instead whine and moan.

Case in point: every DCIAA baseball team except Wilson.

Here's the thing: IT'S A GAME. People keep score. There is a winner. There is a loser. Records can be set.

Saslow, however did get the coach of the winning team to admit that he did everything he could to get the running back the record, including letting punts drop and going no-huddle.

Does that not fall under the Federation's clause whereby "running up scores or embarrassing an opponent for the primary purpose of inclusion in the Record Book is not consistent with the ideals of good sportsmanship"?

Football is not the only place where this has been happening. This week, a schoolgirl near Allentown, Pa. scored 10 goals in a field hockey game. Teams are setting new marks for scoring: seven out of the nine highest team goal-scoring totals have occurred since 2002.

One league in New Jersey has gone so far as to mandate that coaches who allow their teams to win games by more than seven goals are subject to suspension.

Posted by: TOTC | October 6, 2006 9:53 AM

While I am generally of the opinion that there is too much emphasis on the individual in sports these days, I can't help thinking this whole story is being blown out of proportion. The aspect I'm most disturbed by is that of the losing coach, Mark Hunt. He talks about how angry and humiliated he felt.

The first tends to reflect that he was personally upset because the failure of his team to stop one player reflected badly on him as a coach. (What, you don't think coaches have ego's?) The second, well, you have to allow yourself to be humiliated. As a coach it was Hunt's job to first figure out a way, whether by strategy or inspiration for his players to stop one player. I repeat, one player. It's not like Matewan used McCoy as a decoy. Everybody in that stadium knew who was going to get the ball.

In my opinion, Mark Hunt failed as a coach, not so much by showing an inability to stop one player, Paul McCoy, but by how he responded to what happened. There is no shame in getting beaten by an opponent better than you. It was Hunt's job to remind his players of that fact. Instead, by whining to the media, he has helped contribute to another growing trend, that of portraying one's self as a victim in order to avoid bearing any responsibility for your own actions. The coach and players of Burke HS should be embarassed - for being a bunch of cry baby wusses.

Posted by: Tim | October 6, 2006 9:53 AM

As I read this and reviewed it with an open and balanced perspective I am left with one very simply thought...
Life is tough. THAT is what sports teach you. The strongest, most gifted, most talented, and most dedicated to winning will win. If you are not then you WIL LOSE. Bush CHEATED to win the first election. Whine about this if we must but the fact STILL remains that HE WON. He is STILL PRESIDENT. If you can not do what it takes to win, if your can not stomach defeat by someone who IS willing to step on you to achieve there goal, you have two choice...DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT TO STOP THEM OR QUIT. Don't complain about how they do it. If you lose after giving your best to a superior opponent then you have lost. No shame in that. If you get your butt whipped and then spend the next week crying about the manner in which they WHOOPED YOUR TAIL...THAT is the definition of a looser. This watering down of these basic universal principals is what has begun to eat away at the competitive nature of this country that made it great. I hear people of older generations complain about how we are raising a generation of people who believe that showing up is enough to warrant a reward. It isn't.
Throughout this entire whinefest all I am seeing is how wrong the coach was for running up the score. HOW ABOUT we look at THE OTHER COACH for not stopping him. How about we talk about how a man who calls himself a leader of young men LET this happen. No one beats you that bad. You LOSE that bad. Until he,they, us all realize this then his team will coninue being loser victims. This is A-Typical of this blameless, non-accountable society that we live in. Start a war for no good reason, it's not our fault, and it's the bad information that we just so happened base all of our decisions on. Weigh 400 pounds, it's not our fault it's the food industry that is forcing me to eat. Kids can't compete in sports OR IN LIFE and it's not our failure as parents and adults its that things are too hard.
That isn't going to change. Either teach these kids some pride and show them HOW NOT to get embarrassed like this, or take them off of the field and hope that they get an academic scholarship somewhere.
Either way teach them the value of being the best at SOMETHING. Don't blame the winner for winning. Pity the loser for not doing enough to win.

Posted by: One | October 6, 2006 10:04 AM

Why didn't the losing team simply injure the star? Probably because they had some integrity.

Anyways, a record won between two small schools is not really much of a record.

Posted by: Tom | October 6, 2006 10:17 AM

People (including air-hockey dad above) have an odd idea of what "competitive" means.

Stomping an inferior opponent into the ground is being "competitive"?

I thought it was just being a jackass.

Posted by: Burke | October 6, 2006 10:21 AM

These mercy rules might spare feelings, but at what cost? We're raising a generation of kids who think they - and their feelings - are the most important things in the world.

Yes, it sucks to lose 64-0. But it's a game. And if it gets the kid a college scholarship, how dare anyone suggest that it wasn't worth it? Perhaps it's hard for families in this area to comprehend, but there are a lot of places in this country where the only way a kid goes to college is on scholarship. How dare anyone suggest that he shouldn't do everything he can to get one? Are the hurt feelings of the losing team more important than his future? Give me a break.

Posted by: Ally | October 6, 2006 10:27 AM

I am a bit surprised to see that a number of comments support Matewan and Coach Kinder. (Is that really his name? That's hysterical) Running a score up and pounding a beaten opponent will likely have repurcussions beyond that game. Is next year's game at Burch? If I was a junior at Burch I would be thinking about that game starting now. And it would seem logical that upcoming opponents took note of Kinder's actions and it would not be outside the realm of possibility that someone would like to give Matewan a taste of the same treatment. I would imagine that this game created bad blood that will last for years. Coach Hunt is to be commended for keeping the retaliation to skipping the traditional handshake. It has been my observation that when a team is getting its nose rubbed in it that emotions run high and altercations ensue.

Posted by: Bill P | October 6, 2006 10:27 AM

I dunno...maybe it's because I'm not a sports person, but this just doesn't seem like that big a deal to me. So the kid got a record. That's nice. The story said there are about a bazillion records, which mean less and less. And the losing team lost, but they were going to lose anyway. Yeah, I'd have to say my response is along the lines of: whatever.

Posted by: m3 | October 6, 2006 10:27 AM

To Tim and One who blame Mark Hunt for all this: I invite you to enroll in my class. I'll hand out the hardest exam you ever saw, with plenty of material not covered on the test. Then we'll see how you "losers" (note the spelling, One) feel about "toughening up" and "dealing with it." Maybe you guys think Hunt should have instructed his players to deliberately injure the running back?

Posted by: Professor | October 6, 2006 10:29 AM

When a coach (a) leaves in a star in a blow-out just for the individual record; (b) lets punts roll so the field is longer for his offense, just to get the individual record; and (c) runs a hurry-up the whole second half, just to get an individual record, that coach is an ass. Pure and simple. That coach should get a little vacation. What, he doesn't have other running backs? I bet the second-string kid isn't that excited about the record. Sportsmanship matter. Not grinding kids into the dust matters. I think the losing team handled it perfectly -- they walked away after the game WITHOUT shaking the hands of the victors.

Posted by: TMU | October 6, 2006 10:30 AM

Just another reason why all competitive sports should be banned in all elementary, middle and high schools. "Sportsmanship" as it is taught today is not what was taught by coaches like Paul Bryant. Having said that, in today's world excess is applauded, winning is everything...and the reverse of that coin is that losing sucks but you'd better learn to handle it because in every struggle someone loses. My opinion is that neither coach showed what I would call sportsmanship, neither team showed sportsmanship...and this whole situation is being blown out of proportion. Come on, folks. When are they going to institute 'mercy rules' in business, government, or war?

Posted by: Willy Peters | October 6, 2006 10:32 AM

In what way is your example in any way analogous? The only way your example would be an appropriate analogy would be if the losing coach didn't know he was going to be playing football that night, or didn't realize that the running game might be an element of the winning coach's offense. Otherwise, your analogy was inartfully drawn.

Posted by: Hold up, Prof ... | October 6, 2006 10:35 AM

Egalitarians hate sports because it is competitive, and is literally a zero-sum game. One participant wins, another loses; and to win, you must make your opponent lose.

Sometimes victory comes because of luck or poor officiating, but most often because one competitor is better than the other: whether as a result of better coaching, more and better training, or, (and this is especially galling to the egalitarians) inborn talent: immutable innate genetic traits.

Sometimes talent mismatches are small, sometimes they are big. Scores and statistics exist to measure such facts.

The losing coach and team had every opportunity and plenty of time to stop ONE PLAYER, and either lacked the talent, or lacked the courage and tenacity. And they paid a price for it. They should be humiliated, but that is one of the tough lessons sports teaches: that you are precisely as good or as bad, compared to others, as you are.

Whining about losing, or losing big, is unbecoming, and, frankly, unmasculine. Petulantly refusing to shake the hands of your opponents and flouncing off the field in a huff is unforgiveable.

If the winning team broke no rules, incurred no unreasonable risk of injuries, helped up fallen opponents, calmly handed off the football to officials after successful plays rather than dancing and posing, and refrained from trash-talking, they behaved in a perfectly gentlemanly and sportsmanlike manner in what is supposed to be a tough, competitive sporting contest, and accusing of them of not doing so is the real injustice and ought to be the real controversy here.

Posted by: Leo | October 6, 2006 10:44 AM

True sportsmanship on the part of the losers would have been if they had all appaluded the winners, and the running back, after the game.

Posted by: Leo | October 6, 2006 10:45 AM

life is hard, but people don't have to be intentionally cruel.

coaches are teachers. they set examples for their players. i still remember what my coaches taught me. we were taught about competitions and struggles, and we were taught about respect and sportsmanship. we fought hard on the field, but we shake hands afterwards. it's not personal, it's competition.

it's merely one thing to showcase a star player, it's another to go no huddle for an entire half to run up the stats. i'm not saying that he should instruct his players to fall down or go out of bounds. he could have put in his reserves in the second half and rested his starters.

i attended penn state and have been a lifelong penn state football fan. watching the way joe paterno coached his teams, it seems like the wv coach could have used some pointers. joepa's philosophy was no one player is bigger than the game. if his team was up by a safe score, his reserves got playing time. that's why you rarely see penn state players in the record books.

what a coach can teach the players go beyond the game. the coach here missed a great opportunity to teach his players about respect and humility.

Posted by: Jason | October 6, 2006 10:46 AM

I've been on my share of losing teams and know what it's like to get crushed. It feels terrible. And most of the time, the winning team doesn't even care and won't even remember the game since it was such a blowout. If one of those times my team crushed, our defeat led to an individual having his shining moment and remembering it happily for the rest of his life, I'd let him have it. Why not?

I think all this moaning about how "unfair" it is (as Jason mentioned above, this term is pretty inaccurate) just makes the losing team seem like babies. You were either going to lose by 35 points or 60 points. What's the difference to you? Let a kid have his moment of glory.

Posted by: Will | October 6, 2006 10:50 AM

The line of argument: "Bush cheated to win the election. But he still won. Get over it." is one of many reasons America is detested around the world. By that logic, "One" might say "Bush assassinated all his opponents. He's president. Get used to it." Perhaps "One" WILL be able to say that in 2008...

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | October 6, 2006 10:50 AM

My apologies for the spelling mishap but the point remains the same. I would LOVE to take your class. I enjoy a challenge. Matter of fact, I LOVE a challenge because only through struggle do we stand a chance at becoming something greater than we are. If I took your class, passed your exam, I would know that I did so of my own merit. If I took it and failed miserably then the fault is my own and I should blame no one.
I am not encouraging bullying. I am simply stating that when you engage in a competitive activity, you need to either be prepared to win...or be ready to lose. If you win, you win because you simply wanted it more. If you lose...the same logic applies. I have been on both sides of that equation on teams ranging from Pop Warner Pee-Wee football to the NFL (played for 8 years for 3 teams) and the fact is if you lose. It's in the handling of it. Tim and Alley have it right. It is a game. It is a game in the reflection of life. Opposing forces moving in opposite directions for one common goal. In football AND in play to win. If you lose, you lose. Don't gain notoriety by crying about it.

Posted by: One | October 6, 2006 10:51 AM

One said, "If you get your butt whipped and then spend the next week crying about the manner in which they WHOOPED YOUR TAIL...THAT is the definition of a looser."

I believe the true definition is:

Loser - a person who does not know how to spell "loser"

Posted by: Flunky | October 6, 2006 10:52 AM

I would prefer to leave politics, such as discussions of President Bush and the 2000 elections, out of this. Bjt I would note, by the way, that, although downplayed or ignored by the Bush-hating and left-leaning media worldwide, that Gore never once had the lead in the actual ballot count, and his tactics, such as throwing out military ballots, trying to have a group of Democrat-only officials count ballots behind closed doors, demanding recounts far beyond written statory and FL constitutional limits until he could finally manufacture a lead (at which point of course the recount process would suddenly shut down -- a strategy the liberal FL Supreme court went along with in violation, again, of WRITTEN law), could easily be seen as cheating. And in fact, it was: see "At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried To Steal The Election" by Bill Sammon. After JFK, Bob Dornan, Woody Jenkins, and the long history of Democrats stealing elections in New Jersey and Chicago, the GOP finally had enough, and protested and fought back for once. Of course the media and Dems will never forgive them for having the temerity to do that.

Posted by: Leo | October 6, 2006 10:59 AM

Maybe the other teams coach should teach them how to TACKLE, the point of the game is to win and win big. If one player is wining the game you do not take him out so you don't HURT the other teams feelings.

Posted by: TJ | October 6, 2006 11:02 AM

Excellent post, Marc.

Posted by: Tom T. | October 6, 2006 11:17 AM

This needs perspective. The schools are, by the news accounts, small WV schools in smalls WV towns. The coaches are more then likely also a Drivers Ed teacher, History or P.E. teacher. We're not talking the next Joe Gibbs or Bill Walsh, and we're certainly not talking about this kid being the next Marshall Faulk or Tony Dorsett.

If this kid was that "good" then regardless of his size, he should be able to get something from a small program. Don't give me that crap about his size. They're are guys in the NFL that are under 5'10" and hundreds, if not thousands of guys that play at the collegiate level as small or smaller. A high school CAREER is what gets coaches attention.

The fact that someone ran up a score, rushing record, passing record or anything else along the lines of questionable sportsmanship will have thier accomplishment looked on for what it is, a hollow record. If this kid is so deserving, then his coach OWES it to him to sell him to every program he can find. Part of coaching is to work with college recruiters, even if the coach has to intiate the calls, and find the kid a place to play if it's possible.

Lets call this like it is. It was stupid mistake by a coach who may have thought he was helping. The kid did what most would have given the same circumstances and advice from his coach. Anyone who has ever felt the cool fall air under the lights at a high school game would have wanted to have some type glory, whether it's catching the winning touchdown pass or rushing for a couple of hundred yards. It's a shame the kid felt as if he couldn't stand up to his coach after he realized how bad this looked and tell him it was wrong and that he'd rather play next week. High school football is supposed to be about a lot of things. Intentionally making another team out to be the test subjects for a rushing record is just plain wrong and is not one of them. So now for the rest of his life this kid will be remembered, not for his rushing record, but as the guy who ran it up on another school and that stinks for the kid.

Posted by: TRH | October 6, 2006 11:19 AM

I have mixed feelings on this one. First, I think it is important to distinguish between high school and youth sports. 17 and 18 year old boys (and their adult coaches) should be able to handle getting beat badly. Look at how we "rank" the best football players in our area-most yards. Is that a fair assessment? probably not. Compare the stats of Cartagena from Annandale who is ranked #3 (109 carries for 675 yards-an average of 6.19 yards per carry) with Jake Trantin from Spaulding who is #18 (50 carries for 515 yards with an average of 10.3 ypc).Who is the "better" rusher? Should we scold the Annandale coach for doing the same thing? The publis schools have to work with what they have-usually only a handful of very good players. Those are the kids who see all the action. It happens everywhere.

Posted by: novamom | October 6, 2006 11:20 AM

To that argument I could enter occasions of ballot tampering and improprieties with the electoral system weighing HEAVILY in favor of the Right Wing agenda...but I won't.

I could debate the system that methodically barred thousands of minority voters from exercising their constitutional right to vote for fear of the obvious outcome based on CAREFULLY considered statistical evidence gathered, calculated, and utilized for the expressed intent of eliminating that particular Left Wing support base...but I won't.

I could even go as far to point out the systematic distribution of misinformation on the night of the election implemented by officials within the news media with ties to the Bush family which ultimately had a dire effect on the reporting of the election results and voter turn-out...but I won't.

The REASON that I won't bring any of this into the argument is BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER...he is STILL PRESIDENT. Unless the people of this country are going to rise up and demand impeachment for his laundry list of inadequacies and lies, then IT DOESN'T MATTER how much we complain.
THAT is my point.
You want to do something about an unfavorable outcome...QUIT WHINING AND KEEP IT FROM HAPPENING TWICE. Don't waste time going over (in detail) how you were beaten.
Like I said...

Posted by: One... | October 6, 2006 11:23 AM

One, with all due respect,you really have a problem. It's one thing to win, it's another to win big, it's still quite another to do something so ridiculously stupid so as to embarass, not the other school, but your own. It's your type of thinking that has a lot of people starting to show a backlash at the hams and showoffs in all sports. Win at all costs I'm not sure I agree with you on most parts, but I agree with you wholeheartedly that in a contest there are winners and losers, but that's not the same as running it up on someone. I wonder how this coach would have felt if his "star" running back got hurt towards the end of the game and not only lost him for the rest of the season, but ended whatever career he may have had. BTW, I would love to know which NFL teams you played for and the years you played because I think you're full of it.

Posted by: TRH | October 6, 2006 11:32 AM

You've had great, meaty discussions of late so I almost hate to bring up a local triviality but I can't help myself. Have you seen the awful and amazingly unimpressive "Welcome to Washington" sign on River Road just after you cross Western Avenue? Who is responsible for that and what were they thinking? The most positive thing I can say is that it certainly is not pretentious. Love to hear your views.

Why is it bad sportsmanship to play the game and win if you are the better team? I think its nice when a team decides not to score extra points when winning but I don't think its required. If you're bad, you lose badly. So what? It's a game. Work hard and do better next time or just enjoy the opportunity to get out and play. Too many egos, too little perspective and not enough joy and fun. It's only a game.

Posted by: MoCoDC | October 6, 2006 11:38 AM

What One- and too many others- seemingly fails to grasp is that NFL teams don't play Pop Warner Pee Wee teams (well, maybe the Raiders). [Why even Indiana basketball now has divisions/classes by school size] When a vastly superior team finds itself facing a vastly overmatched opponent, the question is whether you give your benchwarmers and waterboys a chance to play in the second half, or whether you run up the score in pursuing a meaningless/cheapened record.

Just want to get mentioned in the 'Washington Post'? Ask the Amish if it was worth it.

Posted by: Lady Byng | October 6, 2006 11:45 AM

Kinder is pronounced kin-der (think kindergarden), not kind-er. Kinder is German for child.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:47 AM

I am sure if the opposing coach had to do it over again, he would have played into the mockery and told his team to go after the quarteback or the weakest kid on the opposing team on every play and let the kid with the ball go in untouched. Although it seems like this prety much what happened anyway...If I were the opposing coach I would have let the kid rush for 1000 yards and would have helped the other team carry him off the field. Nothing like sarcasm and mockery of uniform self interest to disarm its underpinnings.

Posted by: Bob Stokes | October 6, 2006 11:52 AM

"The senior had unspectacular talent and minimal prospects of playing for a Division I college, but those realities never impeded his work ethic.

McCoy's parents grew up near Matewan, a mountain town of about 500 people located two hours from the nearest airport in Charleston. They owned a local barbeque restaurant, and McCoy had promised them he would somehow earn a college scholarship. At 5 feet 8 and about 160 pounds, McCoy could squat 500 pounds and bench 350. He had given up his dreams of playing running back in college and signed up to be a cornerback at summer football camps, hoping college recruiters would notice him at that position. They still said he was too small.

a simple hand-off on the first play against Burch, and McCoy raced 69 yards for a touchdown. Three more basic running plays to McCoy yielded similar results in the first half -- scoring runs of 20, 52, and 56 yards"

The above statements from this article. We are supposed to be upset because some coach could get his team to stop basic running plays. Forget the kid trying to get noticed for a scholarship. Forget that he works hard to play his position. Forget he is undersized for a running back in any level of football. Just remember the coach who instead of teaching his team that life is tough and so is football, taught them to cry. He taught them to be victims. He taught to tuck their tails between their legs and run. Wow what a coach.

Posted by: Matt Baltimore | October 6, 2006 12:04 PM

Just a comment on sportsmanship and life. In my seven years of playing little league baseball in Sterling Park in the 60s and 70s I remember fondly a man who coached my major league team - Dick Gray - whose sole purpose was to teach the game to kids and help them have fun. I also remember not-so-fondly, my Babe Ruth coach on the Pilots who only let me play two innings in three years (I was behind a guy who later got offered an Orioles farm team contract, but instead quarterbacked UNC). I finally quit the third year to do another sport and this coach was actually upset that I quit on him. He was a win-at-any-cost coach that did just that--always won. So sure life is tough, and you take your lumps. But when I go back to the home town of Sterling, If I see Dick Gray, I'll shake his hand, if I see the other coach, I'll walk on by. He can keep his winning memories, I'll keep mine.

Posted by: Annandale, | October 6, 2006 12:51 PM

I just don't see what the BIG deal is....if the other team could not stop the running back, then they deserve to LOSE. The game is called FOOTBALL, not Wimp Ball and it is not a game for the meek or weak-spirited. It IS a game that's about total domination (when on the playing field), taking the fight out of your opponent and mentally and physically crushing them. Not to mention, I would never teach my child to play with any less talent than God gave him and if said talent allows him to break a national record, then sobeit. It sounds like a case of "sore losers" to me...I mean, really, what was the other team doing? Standing around and watching McCoy run up and down the field?? If you ask me, Coach Hunt needs to be fired for fielding an improperly coached team. Kudos to Tim.

Posted by: Call Me Crazy | October 6, 2006 12:54 PM

Does this kid's school have a wrestling team? Pressing and squating what he does and being able to run, feint, and dart 658 yards shows real possibilities for upper level college wrestling. By the way, Kind is German for child, Kinder for children, das Kind, die Kinder. And most misspellings on posts are the result of haste and not stupidity.

Posted by: jib | October 6, 2006 1:09 PM

Most folks have an inner sense of "what is right" and "what is wrong." We're talking about youth sports here. What happened here "wasn't right."

Posted by: bj | October 6, 2006 1:10 PM

Remember H.B. Banjoman from last year? D1 legs, lousy grades, and plenty of Matewan-style controversy:

Football: Banjoman is still shocked by record-breaking game (12-22-05)

By Ryan Sonner (Daily Staff Writer)

FRONT ROYAL -- H.B. Banjoman couldn't believe it then, and he can't believe it now. Some of the events of that night are still a blur, but the final outcome is crystal clear.

Warren County's season finale at Central was anything but ordinary. It started with Banjoman's quest for a state record and ended with a mountain of controversy.

"It was one of the craziest endings I've ever been in," the Warren County running back said last week. "That was something I've never experienced."

The craziness began with about a minute to go in the game and the Wildcats holding a 28-7 lead. Banjoman needed 34 yards to break the Virginia High School League record for most rushing yards in a 10-game season, but Central had the ball.

In an effort to get the ball back, and at the request of coach Heath Gilbert, the Warren County defense waived the white flag and allowed Central running back Brandon Pence to run 73 yards for a touchdown.

When Warren County took possession, the Falcons jumped offsides several times to thwart Banjoman's attempt at the record. It didn't work, and on the last play of the game, Banjoman did what he does best. He started to the left, found no running room and cut back against the grain. He gained 19 yards on the game's final play, more than enough to secure his place in history.

Banjoman ended the season with 2,607 yards and 37 touchdowns -- both school records -- but the senior was edged out by Handley sophomore quarterback J.J. Dorsey for the Northern Virginia Daily's All-Area Offensive Player of the Year award.

More than a month after the Central game, Banjoman still laughs about the whole situation -- especially at the people who left the game with a sour taste in their mouth. Some said Gilbert cared more about Banjoman's record than anything else, including the final score. Others suggested an asterisk be placed next to Banjoman's name in the record book because of the manner in which it was broken.

"I did see some stuff on the Internet," Banjoman said. "But I thought it was funny."

Gilbert didn't take the criticism so light-heartedly. On Nov. 19, he issued an apology to both the local media and to Central High School for any actions that were perceived as unsportsmanlike.

When contacted for this story, Gilbert gladly talked about Banjoman's accomplishments, but when the conversation turned to the Central game, he became irritated.

"It was a decision that I made and that's all it was," he said of the play that allowed Pence to score untouched. "It was an opportunity for our team. That's the bottom line."

Gilbert was then asked whether he would do anything different if he had the power to turn back the clock. He had no response, and a few seconds later, Gilbert ended the phone interview unannounced.

Banjoman's demeanor is more laid back, which is the way it's been all along. Never outspoken, Banjoman has always downplayed his role on the team. Even on his path to the rushing title, Banjoman tried his best to fly under the radar.

"He's very modest about it," teammate Eddie Hoisington said. "He doesn't talk about football that much."

Banjoman did his talking between the lines. As a junior coming off the area's first 2,000-yard season, the spotlight was thrust on Banjoman. The questions started early. Could he rush for 2,000 yards again? Could he break Damone Boone's 10-game rushing record? Is he being set up for failure?

The answers to those questions came early and often. Banjoman's march to greatness began with a 257-yard effort against Broadway to open the season. The following week -- at home against cross-town rival Randolph-Macon Academy -- Banjoman exploded for a career-high 363 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns. From that point on, the question wasn't can he break the record, but when?

Banjoman rushed for more than 300 yards in three other games. His lowest output of the season came against Liberty, which held him to 94 yards. But by then, Banjoman had already gained 1,968 yards. The Liberty game simply served as the one that pushed him past the 2,000-yard mark.

When Banjoman finally broke Boone's 10-year-old record, his first thoughts were of his offensive line, which had gotten very little press compared to the stud running back it cleared paths for.

"Our line was really big and strong," he said. "They really opened up a lot of holes and made things a lot easier for me. They did a lot."

The next step for Banjoman is college, but he hasn't decided on a destination. Depending on his grades, his options could be limited. Few will dispute the notion that Banjoman is a Division I-A talent, but even Banjoman admitted that, because of poor academic performance, he may be forced to attend a prep school. His options include Fork Union Military Academy or Hargrave Military Academy, both located in Virginia.

"He'll do the necessary things to get to where he wants to go," Gilbert said.

And if he doesn't?

"It's been a great season," Banjoman said. "I wouldn't take it back for nothing."

Posted by: NOVA | October 6, 2006 1:12 PM

Wow, this is amazing, however it seems our president has had major influence on a few americans.

No diplomacy!!!

Posted by: Frankey | October 6, 2006 1:19 PM

I wonder how many carries he had that night?!?!?!?!? This reminds me of when I play Madden on X-Box I'll let the ball bounce as close to the endzone so I can have more rushing and passing yards at the end of the game! LOL Congrats to the kid i mean if he had 30 carries the whole night then that is almost 22 yards per carry even 50 carries would be a little over 13 yards per carry... The kid must be in some good shape...The other team needs to learn how to tackle. Everyone who says that coach Kinder shouldn't have let this happen you all must have been on losing teams in the past. The smell of victory smells so sweet!

Posted by: Ryan | October 6, 2006 1:23 PM

In high school I attended a small, private school that played other small, private schools in basketball and soccer. In one basketball game I played in, we were beaten 102-2, which was fairly typical of our experience with the team that won. Our boys team suffered similarly unequal losses in basketball to the same school. (Soccer was a different story.) Yet they were one of our favorite schools to play against, and had one of their players been eligible for a record, I think we would have cheered her/him on, while trying to play our best (obviously inadequate) defense.

However, I think we would have viewed the situation differently if a coach made a practice of kept his 2nd string on the bench during games where the team was winning by a wide margin. It's one thing to give a player a bit of a treat one time, another to consistently pass up playing opportunities for lesser players in order to score lots of points.

Posted by: GJ | October 6, 2006 1:25 PM

I'm somewhat torn by this story. While I agree that refusing to return punts and running a hurry up was a bonehead move that only someone trying for a record in Madden07 should attempt, trying to get a kid a scholarship chance and reward his hard work isn't a bad thing. Let us not forget the movie Rudy where the offense scored a meaningless touchdown to get Rudy on the field. I doubt anyone watching that movie thought the offense was running up the score.(A bit of a stretch for this story but...)
I just have a hard time feeling sorry for the other team when they knew the run was coming but couldn't stop it. It is a competitive game.

Posted by: JRB | October 6, 2006 1:30 PM

I am saddened by the actions of the Matewan coach and apparent poor effort of the losing team. Both will look at this game, as will the star back, as something they should sooner forget, but won't be able to.

Worse, Coach Kinder embarrassed the coaching profession by his actions. He better hope he can motivate his kids to play for him in the future. I would expect it to be difficult to fire up kids in the coming seasons, especially his bench players who work so hard in practices for little reward, if they think their chances of playing are minimal.

No, he didn't stomp on someone's cat, but his actions were just as regretable.

Posted by: Former Coach | October 6, 2006 1:47 PM

For One: if you did indeed play in the NFL as you claim, maybe you noticed what Joe Gibbs does when his team gets the ball back in the closing seconds with the game in hand. He has his QB kneel down to run out the clock, even if the Skins have the ball near the other team's goal line. It's called sportsmanship.
As for those folks who claim the losing team needed to learn how to tackle, I know how to tackle but I wouldn't be able to stop Clinton Portis. If the other guy's better than you, you can't stop him.
Finally, how would coach Yogi feel if, on the last rushing attempt of the game, the RB tore up his knee? Would it have been worth it?
Bottom line: any record achieved by twisting how you play the game is a bogus record.

Posted by: GVA | October 6, 2006 1:57 PM

You know, in college football, teams try to run up the score every week because sometimes that's the difference in getting a better ranking and making it to a better bowl at the end of the year. No one seems to mind all that much on Saturdays.

Certainly there were more tactful ways the coach could have set the record. But, come on, the opponents knew who was going to get the ball on every single play and their 11 guys couldn't stop him. This seems less like running up the score and more like the opponents just quitting and then whining about the result.

This should have been a really great experience for the young running back to set a national record and it's shameful that people have to sit here and make him and his coach feel like monsters.

Posted by: Dakota Pants | October 6, 2006 2:00 PM

I suppose everyone's definition of sportsmanship is different. I was brought up to understand that sportsmanship requires respect between the contestants. If respect is lost, it is not sport. Had I been Dave Hunt, I would have stopped the game shortly into the second half. There was no further reason to continue.
When I was high-school aged player, I participated in a game (not football) in which the police had to be called and the opposing coach was arrested after refusing to obey the referee (arrested for trespass after refusing to leave the arena as ordered). As all respect was lost, the game was not continued.
This issue of sportsmanship is not new. Tomorrow is the 90th anniversary of John Heisman running up the score to 222-0 at Georgia Tech. He certainly wasn't ostracized from the game.

Posted by: Fee | October 6, 2006 2:32 PM

This coach/teacher should be fired!

Posted by: John | October 6, 2006 2:48 PM

Questioning whether I played football is a funny way to distract from the truth of what I said.
If Clinton Portis was close to a single-game record...The Redskins would not relent.
This school didn't relent here.
Good for them. To the other team...Maybe next year they'll score some points.

Posted by: One | October 6, 2006 2:59 PM

Records are made to be broken. Any coach who has a player that is that good would be foolish not to set that player up at least once during his playing career. This was not about embarassing a rival, this was about achieving glory for one of their own. That some sports commentator, years form their high school playing days, could criticize this effort, is just sad.

Posted by: Outfox. Me. | October 6, 2006 3:08 PM

Parents are what is wrong with kids sports. Just let the kids play and have fun. They could even just go outside and read a book or play for fun and exercise rather than competition. Whatever happened to ballet lessons? Parents give them a break!!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 3:34 PM

I geave this a lot of thought and believe in my heart that the coach did the right thing. Outsourcing has shown the United States that competition is real. This coach refused to back down and a star became a star. How would someone feel if a singer with a stunning voice was not allowed to sing solos in choir because of it? No, people who excel at greatness should fight the good fight to be the best they can be. Nothing happened on that field that didn't have parents up in arms when my 1980s high school team had a member picked for a top football school and certainly nothing different than LeBron James. Sports is about sports careers. This has been true for the last 25 years, or over two generations and probably since the 1970s. That coach may have given that kid a shot at something. If he didn't, that kid would have a shot at nothing. half a loaf is better than no loaf.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 6, 2006 3:51 PM

Coach Hunt should've pulled his players off the field and taken the forfeit. The win was a forgone conclusion; why stay & contribute to another coaches b.s. antics.

Posted by: Lady Byng II | October 6, 2006 5:09 PM

One, I didn't question if you played NFL football, I asked what teams you played for and when. I'm a big fan of the has beens and never was'. And to all of you that think this is crybaby stuff go get your heads examined. If you honestly believe that this wasn't anything more than a very sorry excuse for the COACH to have some bragging rights then your kidding yourself.

The idea of playing a game is to play and win. Win big if you must, but to just flat out take advantage of a school you had already beaten is pathetic, and anyone who thinks otherwise must have really been stomped in sports by someone else. That's how you justify the "run them into the ground mentality".

You know even prize fighters get to throw in the towel when they know they're beat. After a corner throws in the towel the ref doesn't throw it back to the corner and say, "no, no, you have a lot more of a beating to take". I doubt very seriously these kids were given the chance. One could only hope that the winning team had a player that was ineligible and the game gets tossed. I'm not sure of the stats go out with the game, but it sure would be funny

Posted by: TRH | October 6, 2006 6:21 PM

One, I didn't question if you played NFL football, I asked what teams you played for and when. I'm a big fan of the has beens and never was'. And to all of you that think this is crybaby stuff go get your heads examined. If you honestly believe that this wasn't anything more than a very sorry excuse for the COACH to have some bragging rights then your kidding yourself.

The idea of playing a game is to play and win. Win big if you must, but to just flat out take advantage of a school you had already beaten is pathetic, and anyone who thinks otherwise must have really been stomped in sports by someone else. That's how you justify the "run them into the ground mentality".

You know even prize fighters get to throw in the towel when they know they're beat. After a corner throws in the towel the ref doesn't throw it back to the corner and say, "no, no, you have a lot more of a beating to take". I doubt very seriously these kids were given the chance. One could only hope that the winning team had a player that was ineligible and the game gets tossed. I'm not sure of the stats go out with the game, but it sure would be funny

Posted by: TRH | October 6, 2006 6:22 PM

This mercy rule is very American. In Australia you would be insulting the opposing team by easing off. Playing hard against an opponent until the end demonstrates that the other team is worthy of your best.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 7:53 PM

Leo apparently thinks that there is no difference in venue between victory and humiliating an opponent. Then in another post he spots the Limbaugh party line about the 2300 election results in Florida, conveniently forgetting the entensive Washington Past analysis in 2001 that called the results an effective dead heat, and that if anything, Gore got more votes.

Leo must have formulated the tactical strategy for our troops in Iraq, where so many lo als have been humiliated that they have either become or have harbored the terrorist insurgents.

Posted by: Mister Methane | October 6, 2006 9:09 PM

This was an outright shame to do what was done to the kids of Burch High. No team deserves treatment like this.The so called star of Matewan High only ran for a whopping 72 yards against the Man Hillbillies wonder what happened here? They should have broke the record then. They lost last week against Tug Valley he only had 83 yards he never got into the endzone in either game. What Happened?

Posted by: football fan wv | October 10, 2006 5:52 PM

It's truly unfortunate that people in Southern West Virginia will be judged based on the limited moral and intellectual resources of someone like Yogi Kinder.

Posted by: Eilzabeth | October 17, 2006 5:34 PM

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