Every once in a while you just come across a story that leaves you shaking your head; on Tuesday night in Indianapolis, The Bloomington South High School girls’ basketball team beat Arlington High School 107-2. Yes you read that right, one hundred and seven to two! The Arlington High team has yet to win a game this year, and is on a twenty-three game losing streak. Bloomington South coach Larry Winters was quoted after the game saying, “I didn’t tell my girls to stop shooting because that would have been more embarrassing (to Arlington).” With a response as ludicrous as coach Winters’ it begs the question; “What is going on with coaches in youth sports these days?”

The incident in Indianapolis is only the most recent story when it comes to coaches or teams running up the score or trying to achieve absurd statistical milestones. On November 20, 2012 Jack Taylor of Grinnell College claimed the NCAA single game scoring record when he score 138 points, in a 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible. By the end of the game Taylor had taken 108 shots, and was 27-71 from behind the three-point line. Taylor’s record was applauded by networks such as ESPN and for what? Not playing defense, not sharing the ball with his teammates, and literally shooting every time the ball touched his hands? No, there is no great accomplishment in what Taylor did that evening in Iowa.

At a girls high school Basketball game in Texas back in January of 2009, the Covenant School embarrassed Dallas Academy handing them a 100-0 loss. The covenant school was up 59-0 at half time, but continued to shoot three-pointers well into the 4th quarter and play a press defense for the entirety of the game. Covenant girls varsity head coach, Micah Grimes, was then fired after the 100-0 victory and did not make any apologies for his actions.

In every sport there comes a time when a team or coach crosses the line that separates playing hard and running up the score. As a former little league coach I’ve been on both sides of a team winning or losing by twenty or more runs. But it’s not how the game is played that’s disturbing it’s how the game is coached. As a coach I wasn’t going to tell my players not to try to hit the ball or do a good job in the field. However, in games where we had a substantial lead I would tell them to stop stealing bases (even in the case of a past ball), and not to be as aggressive on the base paths as they normally would have been.

While coaching third base, I can recall a time when I literally grabbed one of my players jerseys as he attempted to steal home in a game that we were going to easily win and I don’t blame the player for trying to score in that situation; he was only reacting off instinct and doing what I had coached him to do. However, in certain circumstances a young athlete’s desires need to be kept in check by a coach who should be able to see the bigger picture.

As coaches of youth sports from high school on down, there comes a time when you have to reel in your kids and explain to them different situations of the game. Kids will be kids and in the end all they really want to do is have fun. And yes, it is more fun to score runs and make baskets and run for touchdowns, than it is to pass the ball around and run out the clock. In the girls basketball games in Indianapolis and Texas the coaches are 100% to blame for the outrages margins of victories. Those girls were just playing the game they loved and following their coach’s orders.

In the case of Jack Taylor’s 138 points in his teams 75 point victory over Faith Baptist he knew exactly what he was doing. Taylor is a sophomore in college and should have known better. Those 138 points did not come in the flow of a normal basketball game. This was nothing more than a publicity stunt and both the player and coach from Grinnell need to sit back and take a look in the mirror.

Believe me if any of these accomplishments had taken place on the professional level I’d be all for it. Professional athletes are paid to score points as well as defend their opposition. During the New England Patriots 2007 perfect regular season there were games where they just destroyed their competition. Winning games against the Redskins 52-7, beating the Bills once 56-10 and another time 38-7. In most of those games Patriots coach Bill Belichick kept most of his starters on the field and did not apologize for his teams wide margins of victory. In post game press conferences the Patriots’ coach had to answer questions from reporters about whether or not he was “running up the score.” Bill would simply reply that it was the offenses’ job to score points, and it was the defenses’ job to prevent points; and whatever unit was on the field, they were going to do their job.

The key word in my Bill Belichick argument is “job.” He is coaching professional athletes against other professional athletes earning paychecks each week. Youth coaches are coaching kids that should be learning about teamwork, sportsmanship and the fundamentals of the game. For some youth coaches it’s not enough just to win a game, they feel the need to set records and embarrass others and these coaches need to realize that this isn’t the pros, and they’re no Bill Belichick.