Hey, rule-makers, how about a little more mercy

On High Schools

High Schools

October 17, 2004|By MILTON KENT

THE PROBLEM with box scores in the newspaper is that they only present names and numbers, nothing more, nothing less. Yes, they tell a story of sorts, but they don't tell you the whole, unvarnished truth.

Three sets of numbers from the box scores, 17-0, 17-0 and 21-0, have been hanging around Peter Glaudemans' neck like a noose for a few weeks now, and he'd like for people who see them to understand.

Those scores would be terrific for the football team at Eastern Tech, where Glaudemans is a coach. The problem is he is the school's boys soccer coach, and those scores come from victories over Western Tech, Carver A&T and Chesapeake of Baltimore County.

It's the last score, that 21-0 beat-down, as the kids call it, that has people saying nasty things about Glaudemans, from Howard County, where he lives, to Baltimore County, where he teaches and coaches.

"I'm getting it all over the place," Glaudemans said. "It hasn't been pleasant, because I'm a very honest and ethical and fair person. I've coached here for 13 years. It's been hard, because people are saying things about me and to me that just aren't true. So it is a challenge."

Glaudemans said he cleared his bench in the Chesapeake game in the first eight or so minutes and insisted that on every change of possession, his players had to redevelop the play on the defensive end.

He also required his players to bring the ball up the field in horseshoe fashion if they couldn't get a shot, and, after the five-minute mark of the game, any player who had already scored was not permitted to shoot again; hence, 19 different scorers in the box score.

"I don't believe Peter's a person who goes out and tries to embarrass anybody," said Larry Hall, Eastern Tech's athletic director. "I think he was trying to find a way to [play the game] without going down to the offensive end and play keep-away for 20 minutes, which embarrasses people more. It's a tough thing."

As much as we hate to see them, particularly for the kids on the losing end of them, blowouts happen for a variety of reasons. And, like snowflakes, no two drubbings are the same.

For instance, some areas appear to produce better players in certain sports than others. And schools and teams go through good and bad cycles, so it's always possible that one team, riding a high, catches another team on a downward spiral or on a bad day.

Indeed, it is a challenge in the high school ranks for really good teams to keep from pounding not-so-good teams, more so than in colleges or the pro ranks.

And the coach of the superior team faces an additional problem: Once he or she clears the bench, allowing reserves who normally don't play in game situations the chance to get in some work, how do you tell them not to play their hardest and not to score? Such a message flies completely in the face of all the training the kids have undergone during their season.

As Glaudemans said, most coaches are teachers, and they see the field as an extension of the classroom. Those aren't just idle words for Glaudemans, whose 2002-03 team earned a collective 3.57 grade point average, one of the top 106 classroom performances among high school teams, according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

But what lesson is learned by either team in a game that gets completely out of hand? That, if you are superior, you should crush the opposition thoroughly, leaving them with as little self-respect as possible? That, if you're on the losing end, you should take your humiliation like an adult?

There's the rub: High school athletes aren't adults. They're kids. We shouldn't coddle them, but we also should make their athletic experiences as pleasant as possible.

The solution may be for the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, when it reassigns the state's 184 public high schools into classifications based on population, to convene a panel of coaches in each of the 23 sports to come up with a mercy or slaughter rule that would end games that get out of hand.

Currently, baseball and softball have mercy rules that end games early if one team is leading by 10 runs or more after five innings, and the clock continues to run in the second half of football games that are essentially over.

It's probably too much to ask coaches and players during the game to decide whether it should continue. It would seem to be better and more fair if all the parties know ahead of time that play will be stopped once it's determined that one team is clearly superior to the other.

Perhaps, in that way, we can de-emphasize the cold hard numbers of sports and make the games a bit warmer and more humane.

Fall blowouts

Blowouts in various high school sports this fall:

Football

Bel Air 55, Dundalk 0

Eastern Tech 54, Kenwood 0

North Harford 53, Lake Clifton 0

Pallotti 59, Lutheran 0

Hereford 63, Catonsville 0

Girls soccer

Loch Raven 13, Owings Mills 0

Eastern Tech 14, Carver A&T 0

Sparrows Point 13, Overlea 0

Boys soccer

Lutheran 15, Arlington Baptist 0

Owings Mills 13, Overlea 0

Sparrows Point 15, Overlea 0

Girls volleyball

Liberty over Winters Mill, 25-9, 25-8 and 25-5

Towson over Randallstown, 25-7, 25-7 and 25-9

Field hockey

Franklin 10, Lansdowne 0

Severna Park 14, Old Mill 0

Fallston 10, Edgewood 0

Severna Park 15, Glen Burnie 0

Arundel 12, Northeast 0

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