Running up the score is a sensitive issue in all sports, even at the highest professional level. For example, in 2007 the New England Patriots who became the only NFL team ever to go undefeated in a 16 game regular season, were often accused of scoring too many points against their hapless opposition.
Getting beaten is one thing, most athletes believe. Being deliberately humiliated is something else altogether.
But when a high school football team puts a 91-0 beatdown on an opponent, that goes beyond “running up the score.” At least, that’s what one unidentified parent of a Forth Worth Western Hills High School player believes.
The parent has filed a formal complaint against the coach of rival Aledo High School, the dominant high school team in the Fort Worth, Texas, region, over the game that took place Friday night.
The charge? Bullying.
“I've never heard of a bullying report in a football game," Aledo coach Tim Buchanan, told a local TV station.
Buchanan now faces an investigation by the Aledo Independent School District, as required whenever someone lodges a bullying complaint.
Lopsided victories are nothing new for Buchanan’s team. With an undefeated record of 7-0, the Bearcats have outscored their opposition 485-47 this season. But the 91-0 drubbing of Western Hills left even the Bearcats players in no mood to celebrate.
“We were just sitting there,” Buchanan (pictured) said. “You’d have thought we got beat. I looked around and asked, ‘Is there anyone here that feels good?’”
The coach himself was not happy, either. “I’m upset about it,” he said. “I don’t like it. I sit there the whole third and fourth quarter and try to think how I can keep us from scoring.”
Buchanan said he began pulling his starting players from the game in the first quarter, fielding a second-string team for most of the game.
In fact, private and parochial schools in Texas now have a “mercy rule” for football (and basketball) games in which one team leads by 40 points at halftime. The rule requires that the game clock run without stopping the rest of the way.
In Friday’s game, the clock ran nonstop from late in the third quarter, but that still didn’t keep the Bearcats from reaching the end zone repeatedly.
Western Hills Coach John Naylor had no problem with the way Aledo played the game and disagreed that the coach engaged in bullying.
“I think the game was handled fine,” he said. “We just ran into a buzzsaw. [Aledo] just plays hard. And they’re good sports, and they don’t talk at all.”
SOURCES: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, ESPN, Philly.com