Tuesday, January 27, 2009


In my reading, I enjoy perusing local newspapers' websites, particularly on stories of national interest. When I took a look at what the Dallas Morning News had to say about the now-infamous 100-0 final score of a recent game between The Covenant School of Dallas and Dallas Academy, it was fascinating reading--particularly the comments after the article. So fascinating, in fact, that I had to respond.

It is a real eye-opener to see that, even in other parts of the country, a large number of people see nothing wrong with a group of young girls embarrassing a group of other young girls at the behest of their coach, a fellow named Micah Grimes. Thankfully, he's now the former girls' basketball coach at The Covenant School, but he has his supporters. And they act in ways which are, unfortunately, quite predictable. Personal attacks, avoidance of the issues... If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you've seen the conduct documented in other discussions. But I thought I'd share some of what's going on in Dallas, as well of more of my observations on the subject matter. What follows is the text of my most recent post to the dallasnews.com website.

Thought I'd check back in with Dallas, and look at the cross section of remarks:

"Mike Bratton you are what is wrong with America today. what is with the "hive" mentality in this nation??? when did it become uncool to do your best and WIN?"

You, whoever you are, miss the point. Winning is fun. Embarrassing the other team just because you can is immoral. There's a difference.

(Oh, and for the record, one of the things that really is wrong with this country is the proliferation of people who say bellicose, outlandish things from the comfort of anonymity. As a former pastor of mine used to observe, if you can't sign your remarks, they aren't worth anything.)

"Lets just leave Iraq and Afghanistan.. the other team can't compete with us.. if we had this mentality in WWII we would not have won!!!"

Addressed this previously, but it bears repeating: This wasn't a war. It was a girls' basketball game. War analogies don't work here.

"you have to experience defeat and failure to grow as a person. not everyone deserves a trophy.. not everyone wins in life.."

The girls who were on the losing end of this game seem to be handling it well, from what we're told. If you had read closely, my concern is for the girls who won. They've been taught to step on the necks of their competition, not just to be their best.

Kicking your opponents while they're down isn't found anywhere in Scripture.

"Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins according to what is taught by Covenant. By His example, we learn so much. What would they be teaching if someone stepped in and altered the course of His Divine Will because he had 'had enough?'"

Wow, talk about an irrational response. It's not enough to compare a girls' basketball game to a war--now someone wants to compare a girls' basketball game to Jesus' sacrificial death at Calvary?

"What if they had held the ball the entire second half? Would that be showing Christian compassion, or would the coach still have lost his job due to the fact that the other team still didn't get to shoot the ball."

What was "ridiculous" was allowing (or coaching?) your players to shoot threes in the second half of a stone-cold blowout. Grimes could've easily talked with the opposing coach at halftime, and either called the game or found some other equitable solution.

"BostonGuy, how funny that you know what that entire USA thinks. The discussion on Sports Illustrated's 'For the Record' would completely disagree with you...sports fans around the nation disagree with you."

While I am familiar with the notion of "the wisdom of crowds," the issue here is one of morality--and "the morality of crowds" is something rarely worth following.

But you keep right on hurling those "big" brickbats from the tall grass, there, TexN. All you're doing is proving my point.

"As a young sibling of a very talented and athletic brother, I lost most of my competitions with him, but it made me strong and tougher."

Did your brother step on your neck after he beat you?

"I asked all the induviduals who thought some compassion should have been shown a question... and that was 'what should they have done?' but nobody has answered that question. I'm not here to argue or sound stupid, I am just curious to know what others think should have been done, so that I can look it up in my book and see if it is considered cheating by my standards."

Then let me answer it again. Grimes, had he not been evidently myopic, could have spoken to the opposing coach at halftime and come to an equitable resolution for both teams.

And to be honest, your subjective standards aren't really part of the issue. Objective issues of right and wrong, of immorality and morality, of integrity and dishonor--those are the issues on the table.

Grimes said, "I will walk away with my integrity."

In a word: Bull.

Grimes left it on the court when he taught his players that people were less important than padded stats.



Memphis said...

Mike, not having read all of your post to the Dallas newspaper, I can't say I agree or disagree with you on your points.

A team losing 100-0 is astonishing. I understand that the losing team has not won a game in many seasons, so I am not sure that winning is as important to them. On the other hand, beating a team by 100 points is excessive. I am not sure you can blame the players any, but maybe the the refs should have stepped in.

Either way, as I understand the incident, it was discussed that he winning team was considering forfeiting that game, which to me would be a bigger insult to the losing team than the defeat itself.

I guess in a way I am torn, I was always taught to play the entire game, or to the whistle. If coach took out his starting 5 and played everyone on the bench and they still won big, I am not sure that I think it is a big deal.

All I know is that personally, I would have preferred to play it out than to have it called for a runrule like in softball.

Mike Bratton said...

Memphis, the "winning" school's administration, from what I recall, is uncomfortable with the circumstances surrounding the game, and wants to dissociate itself from the outcome.

What has made this a big deal is the full-throated response from so many people who say "Yeah! Kill 'em!" with regard to a girls' basketball game. I keep reading excuses for the shellacking that equate basketball games with war; a lot of people seem to have a hard time distinguishing between an "opponent" and an "enemy."

And, yes, I'm reminded of a number of different issues where that is the case.


Guiding Angel said...

Mike, thanks for jumping into the Dallas Morning News comments chaos. I post as "interesting" and you have been able to stay a lot calmer than I (at times have gotten very frustrated and responded accordingly).

I agree with you. The "winning at all costs" attitude is disheartening.

No one ever questioned the skills of Grimes as a coach. He's an excellent technical skills coach. The problem is his teaching philosophy doesn't mirror the philosophy of the organization who contracted with him.

So many jump to conclusion that he was fired for "winning." They don't take into consideration that when a contractor is contracted to work for a religious organization that it is strictly stated in the Contractor Agreement that the contractor must uphold the philosophy of the organization at all times.

When Mr. Grimes publicly disagreed with his contracted employer, he committed "Breach of Contract" for not upholding the philosophy of that employer. He guaranteed the termination of his contract.

Mr. Grimes' problem is poor judgement in the way he allowed the game to progress and extremely poor judgement in disagreeing with the philosophy of his contracted employer.

Now, as a parent, if he had recruited my child to give him a "character reference" on his personal website, I would immediately be speaking with an attorney. I wonder how many of the girl's parents were even aware of his posting their comments. If they allowed it, then they too are just as guilty of using poor judgement for allowing their child to be opened up to even more redicule.

This entire situation shows an entire lack of common sense and common courtesy. Unfortunately, both are missing more and more in our society.

Keep up the good work with your comments on DMN.

Best regards,

Cynthia O.

Lynn said...

As Herm Edwards once said...you play to win the game.

That being said....while draining 3s in the 4th quarter is a bit much....I do not think it was worth firing. I hate to break it to you, but not everyone can win. It irritates me to no end that this nation has gotten to a point where we're more concerned about hurting one's feelings. That coach should not have been fired. I'm tired of people giving trophies for last place.

Mike Bratton said...

"That being said....while draining 3s in the 4th quarter is a bit much....I do not think it was worth firing. I hate to break it to you, but not everyone can win."

You "hate to break it to me"?

As thought this is some new concept?


Have I once suggested that scores should not be kept, winners not be rewarded, or that losing isn't a real part of competition?

Of course not.

But feel free to get nice and condescending.

"It irritates me to no end that this nation has gotten to a point where we're more concerned about hurting one's feelings. That coach should not have been fired. I'm tired of people giving trophies for last place."

So fly down to Dallas and give him a trophy for teaching his charges to stomp on others' necks. Since you're such a fan of assaulting people while they're down, be sure and drive by Dallas Academy while you're there with a big "You stink!" banner, and hang it up for them to see.

There's winning, and there's attacking. That was an attack, not a win. And it is fascinating to no end to see the discounting of compassion in our society--particularly among people who claim to be Christians.


larry said...

In my opinion, this is a good indicator of priorities. If the coach's priorities were to prove his team's superiority and dominance, then why not run the score up at the expense of the opponents?

If, however, his desires were along more biblical lines - including showing mercy and edifying others while still doing the job he's been called to do - perhaps he'd have considered the effects of the trouncing on his opponents. I don't see how it could have been positive in any way, only negative.

The game should have been called at some point, and I don't understand why it wasn't.