Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Mercy Rule

Tuesday's guest post got me thinking about the "mercy rule" in sports. The Little League World Series has one that goes into effect if a team is up by 10 runs after 4 innings. I noticed similar rules in high school baseball in different parts of the country. No one seemed to give the rule much resistance when I saw it and accept it as part of the game. Players, fans, and coaches alike all seem quite content about the rule.

In Central Texas, there is a debate about this rule in high school basketball. One team has lost every game by an average of 51 points and had recent scores of 107-11 and 113-3. No doubt the infamous 100-0 game adds fuel to this debate.

Back in 2007, another article debated the rule citing a 50-3 softball score. This writer pointed out that mercy rules prevent long, boring games.

But isn't there more to this besides long and boring?

How would you feel if you were on the losing team? I know I would be highly motivated to never let it happen again. Not everyone will think like that. I'm definitely not for candy-coating sports where there are no losers, but don't you think there comes a point where enough is enough? When does the learning experience of a pulverizing, humiliating loss become absurd overkill?

In the world of MMA and boxing the match is called if one of the fighters is knocked out or badly hurt - and rightfully so. If this wasn't called then a person could be permanently disabled or killed. This is not exactly the same as the lopsided score although some may argue a mental slaughter causes as much damage.

Do mental beatings deserve a mercy rule?

What sports should have a mercy rule? What should the limits be?


Lindsay said...

I'm not sure if lower-scoring sports like hockey and soccer need a mercy rule. I'm not even sure about football. But basketball definitely needs one, at least for junior varsity teams and under and maybe for varsity as well. There are way too many varsity games that end with scores like 70-10.

I say once a basketball team is ahead by 50 points, the game ends. What do you think?

Apryl DeLancey said...

Yeah, hockey and soccer are probably okay but basketball is definitely in need of some help. 50 points is probably a good place to call it!

George said...

Professional sports shouldn't have any sort of mercy rules. As far as any sort of junior sports go, then those rules should definitely be considered. When children are developing such experiences will only serve to damage their psyches. Sure, it might light a spark under an overpaid athlete's ass, but a high school kid? They'll likely just quit, go home to play video games, and never play the sport again.

Maybe the mercy rule could be at the discretion of the coach, if anything. Different players and kids are all wired differently. Let their coach decide whether or not it would be in his squad's best interests to continue.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Great points, George. I totally agree about keeping it out of professional sports. I also like your suggestion about leaving it up to the coaches for juniors.

P.S. Long time no see - thanks for stopping by!