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107-2 basketball win illustrates need for "mercy rule"

By Scott Tibbs, December 28, 2012

If the 107-2 win by the Bloomington South girls' basketball team that made national headlines illustrates anything, it is that the ISHAA needs a "mercy rule" once the score gets out of control. The actions of the coach, though, are much harder to judge.

In the weeks following the South/Arlington game, the difficulties Arlington had were explored, especially how the school had been losing students after being put under new management. The game against South was not an anomaly for this school, which has been blown out by ridiculous margins earlier in the year.

It's easy to judge the coach after the fact, but the fact that the game was scheduled at all put him in a difficult position. The talent difference between the two teams meant that this game was never going to be close. I mean no disrespect to Arlington by saying this, but there is a reason certain schools do not play each other.

Once South started running up the score - probably not intentionally, but by playing normally - it was a difficult decision. If you intentionally put the brakes on, would you be seen as "mocking" an inferior team? Is it even ethical to allow another team to score points or to take intentionally bad shots or turn the ball over?

So the answer is to change the rules for games like this one. One way to do this is to speed up the game: Once the margin reaches a certain point, the clock keeps running even during time outs and dead balls. Another possibility is to declare the leading team automatically wins when the score passes a certain margin - perhaps fifty points.

This serves a dual purpose: It makes the margin of loss less humiliating and it is simply more efficient. This game was over well before the time ran out, and served only as a waste of time for the players, fans and coaches.