When I was a junior at McKinley High, the football team I played on was beaten 70-0 by Broadmoor High in Baton Rouge. They scored early and often. It was clear from the kick-off we were outmatched.
The next morning, the then-Morning Advocate newspaper offered this headline: “Broadmoor assassinates McKinley 70-0.” The funny part, I guess, is that President William McKinley, the namesake of our school, was actually assassinated in 1901.
Initially, I didn’t like the headline, but after thinking about it, I had to admit it was a little clever.
A few people walked through our locker room after the game looking at us as if we had indeed been assassinated. We were embarrassed by the size of the loss, but there was no feeling of dread.
When the game meal arrived — dinner boxes from Delpit’s Chicken Shack — the mood changed dramatically. We grabbed the dinners, fished around extra plates and off into the night we went.
Don’t get me wrong, we cared about winning and we took pride in what we were doing. But, at the end of day, it was a football game.
Neither my parents nor I, nor any of my teammates, were psychologically scarred by the staggering loss. We were growing up in an area of town called “The Bottom.” We probably had more pressing issues to face.
Flash forward and I’m reading about a Fort Worth, Texas, area high school getting beat 91-0. That’s pretty bad, I thought. But, bad things happen in life.
Well whudduya know, a parent of a boy on the losing team equated a good ol’ butt thumping to bullying. Huh?
That’s the charge brought by a parent of a player at Western Hills High School, the team with the zero, against Aleo High School, the team with 91. The father said he didn’t know what to tell his son on the ride home.
Bullying? Really? Sir, a better team with better athletes skunked your boy’s team. It’s okay to get beaten and sometimes to get beaten badly. That’s athletics. That’s life.
Even if the winning team did run up the score — which by the accounts of the game the Aleo coach played second and third players early on — it would have been OK with me if my child had been on the losing team.
My guess is the losing team got over the loss pretty quickly. But parents who take sports much too seriously get involved and make this embarrassing “bullying” claim.
And, while I’m at it, I don’t like those T-Ball games where the parents and coaches (whisper voice here) don’t keep score. The theory is that children feel better about themselves and life if they don’t know they were getting thumped. Come on, we all know that rule is for Mommy and Daddy.
I was an assistant coach on a T-Ball team where some of our players picked clovers in the outfield during the game. Do you think those kids would care if they knew the score? It’s the parents who take sports too seriously.
Now, getting back to that Broadmoor football game. I would have felt much worse if they would have started laughing, running and falling down in an effort not to score on us. I, and some of my teammates, may have wanted to fight if that had happened.
Our basketball team beat Broadmoor by 40-50 points that same year. I think Broadmoor players and their parents returned home after the game and got over it.
I am not a child psychologist, but I will play one in this column. My recommendation to the too huggy, too kissy parent in Fort Worth and other locales: Lighten up. Let your children grow up and deal with setbacks. They may be a lot more resilient than you think.
Better yet … JUST BACK OFF!!!
Ed Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.