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School Basketball Coach Suspended After His Team Drubbed Opponents 92-4

Metaphor

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If your team wins a basketball game convincingly - say by 88 points - even a performance as such might not be the best thing for you as a coach, as Jason Kirck found out the hard way.

Kirck was suspended after his team defeated another school by a huge margin, embarrassing them in the process, The Hill reported.

The win, a drubbing by all means, was deemed to be unsportsmanlike by the school and coach Kirck was suspended for one match.

Sacred Heart Academy suspended coach Jason Kirck after the 92-4 victory over Lyman Hall on January 3 in US' Connecticut and issued an apology, the Associated Press reported.

“Sacred Heart Academy values the lessons taught and cultivated through athletic participation including ethical and responsible behavior, leadership and strength of character and respect for one’s opponents,” Sister Sheila O’Neill, the school's president, wrote.

“Sacred Heart Academy Administration and Athletics are deeply remorseful for the manner through with the outcome of the game was achieved," she added.

Tom Lipka, the coach of Lyman Hall, told the Hartford Courant that the Kirck’s team “showed no mercy throughout.”

“Sacred Heart pressed for most of the first half then called it off and went into a tight man-to-man defense trying to get steals,” Lipka said.
“They fast-breaked the entire game right to the end. They never went into a zone and continued to push the ball up the court and shoot threes whenever they could,” he continued. “They showed no mercy throughout.”

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which oversees high school sports in the state, said it runs a program called “Class Act” which teaches coaches to be aware of the competitive balance in games and manage to score “in a manner that is sportsmanlike and respectful of opponents.”

Sacred Heart is not among the schools that have participated in that program, the organization said, as per AP.

I heard about this on a podcast and when I searched it on google, I actually got links to a different story as well - this kind of thing has apparently happened before:
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- A Southern California high school basketball coach has been suspended and faces accusations of mercilessly running up the score after his team won a game 161-2, one of the most lopsided scores in state history.

Arroyo Valley High girls' coach Michael Anderson was suspended for two games after the victory last week against Bloomington High.

Anderson said that he wasn't trying to run up the score or embarrass the opposition. His team had won four previous games by at least 70 points, and Bloomington had already lost a game by 91.

"The game just got away from me," Anderson told the San Bernardino Sun on Friday. "I didn't play any starters in the second half. I didn't expect them to be that bad. I'm not trying to embarrass anybody."

He says if he had it to do again, he'd have played only reserves after the first quarter, or, "I wouldn't play the game at all."

But Bloomington coach Dale Chung says Arroyo Valley used a full-court press for the entire first half to lead 104-1 at halftime.

"People shouldn't feel sorry for my team," Chung said. "They should feel sorry for his team, which isn't learning the game the right way."

Anderson has served one game of the suspension, a game his team won 80-19 with his son Nick at the helm. He'll return after sitting out one more.

"He's a great X's and O's coach," Chung said. "Ethically? Not so much. He knows what he did was wrong."

You couldn't make it up.
 

Metaphor

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You sound surprised. Have you considered that when high schools sponsor athletic activities that they might be doing so to achieve more than one objective?
I am more than surprised. If somebody had told me this story casually, I would have reckoned they were pulling my leg, or had been taken in by fake news. It is certainly the case that I cannot make sense of the commentary around it:

“Sacred Heart Academy Administration and Athletics are deeply remorseful for the manner through with the outcome of the game was achieved," she added.
What was unethical about the manner in which it was achieved? Did Sacred Heart not play by the rules?

“Sacred Heart pressed for most of the first half then called it off and went into a tight man-to-man defense trying to get steals,” Lipka said.
“They fast-breaked the entire game right to the end. They never went into a zone and continued to push the ball up the court and shoot threes whenever they could,” he continued. “They showed no mercy throughout.”
I freely confess I have no idea what is being described here. Is this bad sportsmanship? Why? If it were done at a college level, would the same behaviour have become sportsmanlike? Why?

What could have turned the coach's behaviour from unsportsmanlike to ethical? Is there evidence the coach mistreated his players? Do individual athletes have the ethical duty to withhold from their best performance to make the competition losers feel better about themselves? Why or why not?
 

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I googled "high school basketball program goals" and came up with many examples. The first one was this:

Program Philosophy​

The Vernon Hills basketball program philosophy begins with the understanding that coaching is more important than winning. The players that we see in the gym are also students, family members, and friends to many. The coaching staff must encourage and foster the desire to learn not only the game of basketball, but also assist players as they learn to navigate through life.

Program Goals​

  1. Improve the basketball skills of the players in the program
  2. Improve as a team as the season progresses
  3. Expose players to life lessons via basketball
  4. Make sure the players have an enjoyable experience
  5. Win

Team Goals​

  1. Compete to win in practice everyday
  2. Play with passion on the defensive end. Excitement is contagious!
  3. Survive and Advance in the state tournament
  4. Have no excuses. We have what it takes to win
  5. No code violations. No detentions. Have great character on and off the court

It takes a TEAM to win a game​

  1. Teams that play hard will defend, run the floor, and rebound
  2. Teams that play smart take high percentage shots, understand time and score, are organized, and have players that understand their roles
  3. Teams that play together communicate with each other, know the offensive and defensive systems, and insist on a great team effort at all times
By incorporating this philosophy, a Vernon Hills basketball player should be prepared and ready to execute the skills necessary to excel on and off the court
Most all of them were similar.

I don't see any of them advocating humiliating your opponents
 

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There was a recent high school football game in the Los Angeles area where the winners ran up the score to something ridiculous and to add insult to injury the team was going for two point conversions when they were already out of sight. I don't know how often this sort of thing happens, I think it's quite rare. It is unsportsmanlike to go to this extreme and indicates that the coach is a douche. Generally when a game is so one sided the coach takes their foot off the pedal, throws in the second, third string players. In softball we used to only take one base even if it was a home run. I think it's just mean and demeaning to grind a team down like that. I don't know what a coach would get out of thrashing another team like that.
 

Metaphor

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I googled "high school basketball program goals" and came up with many examples. The first one was this:

Program Philosophy​

The Vernon Hills basketball program philosophy begins with the understanding that coaching is more important than winning. The players that we see in the gym are also students, family members, and friends to many. The coaching staff must encourage and foster the desire to learn not only the game of basketball, but also assist players as they learn to navigate through life.

Program Goals​

  1. Improve the basketball skills of the players in the program
  2. Improve as a team as the season progresses
  3. Expose players to life lessons via basketball
  4. Make sure the players have an enjoyable experience
  5. Win

Team Goals​

  1. Compete to win in practice everyday
  2. Play with passion on the defensive end. Excitement is contagious!
  3. Survive and Advance in the state tournament
  4. Have no excuses. We have what it takes to win
  5. No code violations. No detentions. Have great character on and off the court

It takes a TEAM to win a game​

  1. Teams that play hard will defend, run the floor, and rebound
  2. Teams that play smart take high percentage shots, understand time and score, are organized, and have players that understand their roles
  3. Teams that play together communicate with each other, know the offensive and defensive systems, and insist on a great team effort at all times
By incorporating this philosophy, a Vernon Hills basketball player should be prepared and ready to execute the skills necessary to excel on and off the court
Most all of them were similar.

I don't see any of them advocating humiliating your opponents
That's the Vernon Hills program, but I don't see anything in it that somehow conflicts with what Sacred Heart did. Indeed, I can't see how the team could have 'taken a dive' and still fulfilled all the goals listed above.

What should the Sacred Heart coach have done in order to not 'humiliate' his opponents? Should he have ordered his girls to stop playing or putting in effort at half time? Would that have been more sportsmanlike? Do the girls on his team also need to be convincing actors, in order to give the illusion they are still trying their best?
 

Metaphor

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There was a recent high school football game in the Los Angeles area where the winners ran up the score to something ridiculous and to add insult to injury the team was going for two point conversions when they were already out of sight. I don't know how often this sort of thing happens, I think it's quite rare. It is unsportsmanlike to go to this extreme and indicates that the coach is a douche. Generally when a game is so one sided the coach takes their foot off the pedal, throws in the second, third string players. In softball we used to only take one base even if it was a home run. I think it's just mean and demeaning to grind a team down like that. I don't know what a coach would get out of thrashing another team like that.
At what point does the coach have to take his foot off the pedal? Is there a point difference at half time that can be evaluated? What's the point difference, or does it depend?
 

TSwizzle

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There was a recent high school football game in the Los Angeles area where the winners ran up the score to something ridiculous and to add insult to injury the team was going for two point conversions when they were already out of sight. I don't know how often this sort of thing happens, I think it's quite rare. It is unsportsmanlike to go to this extreme and indicates that the coach is a douche. Generally when a game is so one sided the coach takes their foot off the pedal, throws in the second, third string players. In softball we used to only take one base even if it was a home run. I think it's just mean and demeaning to grind a team down like that. I don't know what a coach would get out of thrashing another team like that.
At what point does the coach have to take his foot off the pedal? Is there a point difference at half time that can be evaluated? What's the point difference, or does it depend?

There is no firm point in most cases. When I coached soccer and your team were 5-0 up after ten minutes and your team has been parked in your opponents half, you have to ease up. In softball there is a mercy rule, they stop playing if one team is ahead by more than x number of runs with two innings left or something. There's no harm in winning by a large margin but you know when things are going to get ridiculous and to me, there is no fun on being on either side of it.


And why is this in politics ? :confused2:
 
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Make sure the players have an enjoyable experience does not specify which players.

It is in fact at odds with "drub the other team's players miserably".
 

Metaphor

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Make sure the players have an enjoyable experience does not specify which players.

It is in fact at odds with "drub the other team's players miserably".
It is not, though you've certainly gone to pains to make your rhetoric match your implicit assumptions.

But more the point, "make sure the players have an enjoyable experience" is an impossible goal. What if they only enjoy it when they win? Are you required to lose? What if they only enjoy it if they think they've beaten the odds? Are you required to maintain a certain reputation and then act as if they played their utmost?

What is a miserable drubbing? Is a moderate drubbing allowable? Who gets to call the severity of the drubbing? Are runners told to hold back performance so the slower runners can not be so miserably drubbed? Why not?
 

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If a team is that good they basically set the standard of what good basketball is thus setting the goal of one of the objectives being

  1. Improve the basketball skills of the players in the program
After all, if they plan to do basketball on a professional level in the future the higher and sooner the difficulty level is, the better. I do consider 94-4 overkill. Even the NBA players don't do that with coaches sitting out their star players when the lead is far enough. Not sure what the details are in this case but if even the coach's bench was unbeatable there is nothing that can be done. :ROFLMAO:
 

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Look, I used to play basketball for leisure back in my old days (yeah I'm only 47 but still) at a wreck center in Central Islip NY. Imma tell ya straight out, niggas out there weren't nice at all. Lots of fouls and games to 21 (with each basket being 1pt and 3s where 2s) where 21-0 happened along with vulgar smack talking. I went right back out there every weekend until I was the one talking shit.
 

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High school sports in the USA are supposed to build good sportsmanship. Running up scores is not good sportsmanship - it is considered adding insult to the sting of a loss.

Running up the score does not improve the skills of the players of the winning team, because they are not being physically or mentally challenged.

Furthermore, when one team is running up a score, it is possible that a player (or players) on the losing side may not take their drubbing as good sports and attempt to hurt or maim the opposition.

It is not hard to tell one's players to take it slower. In basketball, one could tell the players they have to make 6 passes and can only shoot with their weaker hand. Good coaches know how to do this. Good coaches do it.

In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
 

Metaphor

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In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
There was a student in my high school who was mathematically gifted. I remember one particular test where he wrecked the curve for the entire rest of the class. Should he have been told to ease up, lest his mathematical gifts humiliate the other students? Should a long distance runner hold back from achieving a personal best if she is too far ahead of the competition? If not, why not?
 

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In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
There was a student in my high school who was mathematically gifted. I remember one particular test where he wrecked the curve for the entire rest of the class. Should he have been told to ease up, lest his mathematical gifts humiliate the other students? Should a long distance runner hold back from achieving a personal best if she is too far ahead of the competition? If not, why not?
Learning is not a competition, so your math example is silly.

If you really cannot distinguish between a team sport where score differential matters not and achieving a personal best in an individual sport, there is no hope for rational discussion.
 

Metaphor

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In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
There was a student in my high school who was mathematically gifted. I remember one particular test where he wrecked the curve for the entire rest of the class. Should he have been told to ease up, lest his mathematical gifts humiliate the other students? Should a long distance runner hold back from achieving a personal best if she is too far ahead of the competition? If not, why not?
Learning is not a competition, so your math example is silly.
His performance affected our scores, however. But how strange to say learning is not a competition. Sports are indeed a competition. The entire premise is to beat the opponent doing whatever the sport is.

If you really cannot distinguish between a team sport where score differential matters not and achieving a personal best in an individual sport, there is no hope for rational discussion.
I did not say I could not distinguish between them. I'm asking for the moral difference. They are both competitions. You clearly do not expect any runner to hold back on their performance lest they hurt the feelings of the other competitors, yet you expect team sports players to collectively hold back their performance lest they hurt the feelings of the other competitors.

What's the moral difference, and why?
 

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It's interesting that some people can't tell a difference between offering a form of competition that can be educational, and one that can only be masturbatory.

It cannot be educational, and let me remind that this is a game sponsored by and for an educational body, to run up scores...

...Unless that education is on "object lessons in shitty behavior", to which the punchline is "and look at where that got him." And so the headline is an example of good educational practice.

Competition is done in most settings for sporting fun. Someone wins, someone loses, but both sides agree that it is in good fun, and that the competition is really an illusion, a mockery of evil, so that we learn better the physical skills needed to challenge it!

At least when sports are played right.

When sports are not played right, they are taken not as a friendly meeting of equal persons for a passing suspension of disbelief in love, but as a true battle...

Well, then response measures happen, and is why rules exist. When "we" inevitably have a responsibility to exert leverage, because someone decided to play "leverage"
 

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I remember I was in grade school and my older sister was in high school. The high school football team won every game and never had a point scored against them, winning the state title. Makes me wonder if such a thing was talked about back then.
 

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I remember I was in grade school and my older sister was in high school. The high school football team won every game and never had a point scored against them, winning the state title. Makes me wonder if such a thing was talked about back then.
There's a difference between a shutout season even and running scores.

Playing 5 7-0 games is somehow more skillful than playing 5 21-0 games.

It means a level of skill, and in many ways a chance for response and recovery.
 

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In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
There was a student in my high school who was mathematically gifted. I remember one particular test where he wrecked the curve for the entire rest of the class. Should he have been told to ease up, lest his mathematical gifts humiliate the other students? Should a long distance runner hold back from achieving a personal best if she is too far ahead of the competition? If not, why not?
Learning is not a competition, so your math example is silly.
His performance affected our scores, however.
That performance affected your adjusted scores. So what?
But how strange to say learning is not a competition.
It is strange to say that learning is a competition.
Sports are indeed a competition. The entire premise is to beat the opponent doing whatever the sport is.
Yes, do you have a point? Do you understand that team that wins 94 to 4 also wins if the score is 74 to 14?
If you really cannot distinguish between a team sport where score differential matters not and achieving a personal best in an individual sport, there is no hope for rational discussion.
I did not say I could not distinguish between them.
I observed you have a problem distinguishing between them. Your response simply provides supporting evidence for my observation.
I'm asking for the moral difference. They are both competitions. You clearly do not expect any runner to hold back on their performance lest they hurt the feelings of the other competitors, yet you expect team sports players to collectively hold back their performance lest they hurt the feelings of the other competitors.
I seen races where faster runners have decided to run backwards to deliberately embarrass other racers. Running up a score is done to embarrass the other team.
Running as fast as one can in an individual sport is an expression of one's individual talent. In addition, improving one's time is a way to gauge one's progress.

Winning 94 to 4 as opposed to 54 to 10 does neither of the above.
What's the moral difference, and why?
See above and read Jarhyn's explanation as well.
 

Metaphor

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In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
There was a student in my high school who was mathematically gifted. I remember one particular test where he wrecked the curve for the entire rest of the class. Should he have been told to ease up, lest his mathematical gifts humiliate the other students? Should a long distance runner hold back from achieving a personal best if she is too far ahead of the competition? If not, why not?
Learning is not a competition, so your math example is silly.
His performance affected our scores, however.
That performance affected your adjusted scores. So what?
So, we were competing against each other.

But how strange to say learning is not a competition.
It is strange to say that learning is a competition.
I didn't say it was a competition, but students compete against each other.

Sports are indeed a competition. The entire premise is to beat the opponent doing whatever the sport is.
Yes, do you have a point? Do you understand that team that wins 94 to 4 also wins if the score is 74 to 14?
Yes, and I understand one is more impressive than another, and that higher scores indicate better achievement.

If you really cannot distinguish between a team sport where score differential matters not and achieving a personal best in an individual sport, there is no hope for rational discussion.
I did not say I could not distinguish between them.
I observed you have a problem distinguishing between them. Your response simply provides supporting evidence for my observation.
You observed no such thing. I asked for evidence of a moral difference, which nobody so far has furnished.

I'm asking for the moral difference. They are both competitions. You clearly do not expect any runner to hold back on their performance lest they hurt the feelings of the other competitors, yet you expect team sports players to collectively hold back their performance lest they hurt the feelings of the other competitors.
I seen races where faster runners have decided to run backwards to deliberately embarrass other racers. Running up a score is done to embarrass the other team.
So, you've decided they did it to embarrass the other team? What evidence do you have of that?

Running as fast as one can in an individual sport is an expression of one's individual talent. In addition, improving one's time is a way to gauge one's progress.

Winning 94 to 4 as opposed to 54 to 10 does neither of the above.
Of course it does. A team that scores higher points is a more skilled team than one who scores lower points.

What's the moral difference, and why?
See above and read Jarhyn's explanation as well.
I do not take moral lessons from Jarhyn. Jarhyn's post at #17 is further evidence that I am right to do so.
 

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Causing discomfort to others can be placed on a moral scale. It can be a moral thing or an immoral thing depending on the circumstances. Here's an exercise in morality for Metaphor. Imagine a situation in which causing others discomfort feels like a moral thing and then imagine a situation in which causing others discomfort is an immoral thing. What did you come up with?
 

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Causing discomfort to others can be placed on a moral scale. It can be a moral thing or an immoral thing depending on the circumstances. Here's an exercise in morality for Metaphor. Imagine a situation in which causing others discomfort feels like a moral thing and then imagine a situation in which causing others discomfort is an immoral thing. What did you come up with?
This does not help to answer my questions.

Evidently, some people agree that some threshold was crossed by the coach when his team beat another team by a large number of points. This seems to be predicated on the idea that some unnecessary 'discomfort' at the magnitude of the loss was caused, though nobody appears to think it was somehow unethical to win the game, but merely to win by too much.

Does this apply only to high school teams and not collegiate sports? Why or why not?

Did the girls have a moral obligation to play more poorly as well as the coach instructing them to do so? Why or why not?

Does a high school long distance runner have an obligation to do less than her best if she is winning by a large margin? Why or why not?

Is asking a team to perform at less than their best effort a more ethical choice than winning by a large margin? Why? What about an individual?

EDITED: And why is the default assumption that the girls did this primarily to cause discomfort, instead of (as I would expect a sports team to do), playing to the utmost of their ability?
 

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You look like you want a simple rule of thumb, but there is none. There are countless variables to consider and even if I had the time to explain all the rules of morality to you it wouldn't have done you any good because I would only have explained MY morality. That's because there is no such thing as an absolute morality. My simplified rule of thumb is "don't be an asshole," but that depends on a person's definition of "asshole." (Which just reaffirms the lack of absolute morality.)

I find that conservatives disagree more widely with liberals on the definition of "asshole" than each group disagrees internally. I think that's because conservatives have a stunted sense of empathy compared to liberals. We honestly will likely never agree on the morality of the school in the OP because it is unlikely you will ever recognize the value of some of the objectives the school is trying to achieve.
 

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Sounds like we need a plan to deal with this for upcoming games. If the winning team is ahead by, say, 40 points at half time, they have to play the second half with one hand tied behind their back. Or wear ankle weights or something. That way the winning team does not have to degrade themselves by purposely playing slouchy the second half, and the opposing team has a real chance to close the gap or even win the game. Both teams will be expending full effort during play. Win-win for everyone!
 

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There was a recent high school football game in the Los Angeles area where the winners ran up the score to something ridiculous and to add insult to injury the team was going for two point conversions when they were already out of sight. I don't know how often this sort of thing happens, I think it's quite rare. It is unsportsmanlike to go to this extreme and indicates that the coach is a douche. Generally when a game is so one sided the coach takes their foot off the pedal, throws in the second, third string players. In softball we used to only take one base even if it was a home run. I think it's just mean and demeaning to grind a team down like that. I don't know what a coach would get out of thrashing another team like that.
At what point does the coach have to take his foot off the pedal? Is there a point difference at half time that can be evaluated? What's the point difference, or does it depend?
They take their foot off the pedal in Professional Sports. Starters take a rest, the tempo is slowed down.

I remember in '07 when the Patriots had the perfect regular season, people were complaining the Patriots were running up the scores.

In the League Cup final, I remember Swansea fully taking their foot off the pedal against two league lower Bradford, when it was apparent the game was quickly in hand.

The OP story clearly didn't need a team to only give up 4 points.
 

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You look like you want a simple rule of thumb, but there is none. There are countless variables to consider and even if I had the time to explain all the rules of morality to you it wouldn't have done you any good because I would only have explained MY morality. That's because there is no such thing as an absolute morality. My simplified rule of thumb is "don't be an asshole," but that depends on a person's definition of "asshole." (Which just reaffirms the lack of absolute morality.)

I find that conservatives disagree more widely with liberals on the definition of "asshole" than each group disagrees internally. I think that's because conservatives have a stunted sense of empathy compared to liberals. We honestly will likely never agree on the morality of the school in the OP because it is unlikely you will ever recognize the value of some of the objectives the school is trying to achieve.
You are going to see a lot of people pushing back against you on this, and it's not a good hill to drag the thread to nor to die on.

Your proclamations that there is no objective (correct behavior) nor objective basis for 'morality' is false, though I use the term "ethics" here.

You are failing to understand that while there is no one set of 'specific gross actions in space' that is "right" for everyone to take in every situation, on account of everyone having different goals, the issue comes down not to the behavior itself but the goals, and the sub-goals involved in it, and even whether this behavior is "goals oriented" or "rote".

This is because it is not necessarily behavior that is wrong, but the goal orientation of that behavior.

If your goal demands mutual exclusivity without mutual acceptance of a mutually exclusive outcome, or you engage in goal-free behavior (patterned risk behavior) this is exactly when issues arise, we reject the goal AND all behavior that orients for that goal specifically over other goals.

Because we can objectively name a set of goals as "asymmetrically held within the system" on account of measuring whether those goals are mutually exclusive and not forgiven under mutual accord, we can objectively measure violations of ethics.

The rule of thumb is that ONE team, player, or coach, has violated the mutual accord on which the illusory competition is waged in asymmetry.

Of course this is NOT simple. It takes finding the first execution of leverage.

The mutual accord is "we all play this game to have fun" and the violation of the Accord is "we will leverage our skill to have more fun, at the expense of you having any, despite this not being what you agreed to."

That's a pretty simple rule.

It is, in fact, satisfied not in a qualitative way but a qualitative one, that is described by fuzzy logic (which despite its name is just "continuous threshold logic").

The most sporting game is to score only as many points so as to lead by a single score and still win consistently. That means 1-0 at every game in the season if they wish to be most skillful and everyone to have the most fun.

We accept that some people like to see higher scores and have less skill than it takes to do count such coup, of course, so we allow some variance from this. People are not perfect, so we accept slop factors, just like automated rocket landings are not perfect and so slop being accepted in those calculations. It is not subjective so much as that we are just at least this objectively bad at being good.

At any rate this situation is WELL past the clear case boundary that nobody likes.

Competitions like this are illusory, or are supposed to be, temporary pretend suspensions of the love we are best to share for one another so as to reach our mutually compatible goals, even if that goal is occasionally to satisfy a competitive nature and make us a sharper blade against bad faith and lack of love!
 

Toni

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You sound surprised. Have you considered that when high schools sponsor athletic activities that they might be doing so to achieve more than one objective?
I am more than surprised. If somebody had told me this story casually, I would have reckoned they were pulling my leg, or had been taken in by fake news. It is certainly the case that I cannot make sense of the commentary around it:

“Sacred Heart Academy Administration and Athletics are deeply remorseful for the manner through with the outcome of the game was achieved," she added.
What was unethical about the manner in which it was achieved? Did Sacred Heart not play by the rules?

“Sacred Heart pressed for most of the first half then called it off and went into a tight man-to-man defense trying to get steals,” Lipka said.
“They fast-breaked the entire game right to the end. They never went into a zone and continued to push the ball up the court and shoot threes whenever they could,” he continued. “They showed no mercy throughout.”
I freely confess I have no idea what is being described here. Is this bad sportsmanship? Why? If it were done at a college level, would the same behaviour have become sportsmanlike? Why?

What could have turned the coach's behaviour from unsportsmanlike to ethical? Is there evidence the coach mistreated his players? Do individual athletes have the ethical duty to withhold from their best performance to make the competition losers feel better about themselves? Why or why not?
It IS poor sportsmanship to give an opponent such a drubbing in any sport I've ever watched. Normally, in basketball, if a team finds itself far outscoring their opponents, they pull their starters and substitute their 2nd string to give them some practice and if that's not enough to even up the match, they put in their 3rd string or bench warmers or the coach institutes rules about how many passes you must make before taking a shot or where you can shoot from, etc. This normally happens in high school if there's a 20 point gap in points or more. If it gets smaller, then the more skilled team will start subbing back in their best players. Every team wants to win. Only assholes want to rub their opponents' noses in it.

Speaking of when my kids played sports in youth or highschool leagues or even college: What I absolutely cared the most about was that the coaches were good people: that they cared about fair play and sportsmanship and treating everyone well. Skills and good conditioning, fitness, etc. were next. Wins are great but not humiliating your opponent.
 

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I remember I was in grade school and my older sister was in high school. The high school football team won every game and never had a point scored against them, winning the state title. Makes me wonder if such a thing was talked about back then.
But did the team score 40+ points against their opponents every game? I have known some undefeated teams before and everyone else really wants to beat them. You can learn a lot by playing against someone more skilled and/or more talented than you are. But then there are the assholes who really really run up scores and act like thugs. No one wants to play against them. They risk injury to feed other people's egos and nothing at all is learned.
 

ZiprHead

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I remember I was in grade school and my older sister was in high school. The high school football team won every game and never had a point scored against them, winning the state title. Makes me wonder if such a thing was talked about back then.
But did the team score 40+ points against their opponents every game? I have known some undefeated teams before and everyone else really wants to beat them. You can learn a lot by playing against someone more skilled and/or more talented than you are. But then there are the assholes who really really run up scores and act like thugs. No one wants to play against them. They risk injury to feed other people's egos and nothing at all is learned.
I don't know. I do remember when I attended that high school they had a shrine errected in the hallway trophy case to that years fottball team. I would not be surprised if it's still there.

I'll look it up.

ETA: I found this.

Saginaw Arthur Hill HS (MI) had one of the most historic seasons ever in 1973, as highlighted by this old t-shirt that was recently discovered by The D Zone, who covers Michigan high school sports, particularly the east side of the state.
Back in 1973, Saginaw Arthur Hill, coming off an 8-game winning streak the year before, outscored opponents by a margin that may never be matched ever again, shutting out each opponent en route to a 443-0 scoring margin for the season. If you do the math(4 quarters x 12 minutes per quarter x 9 games in the season), that's averaging OVER A POINT A MINUTE.
Best in Michigan? For sure. Best high school team ever? You've now got to wonder.
 

Jarhyn

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Wins are great but not humiliating your opponent.
This, specifically, because while your opponent does consent to lose, they did not consent to play an unfun game.
 

jab

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If your team wins a basketball game convincingly - say by 88 points - even a performance as such might not be the best thing for you as a coach, as Jason Kirck found out the hard way.

Kirck was suspended after his team defeated another school by a huge margin, embarrassing them in the process, The Hill reported.

The win, a drubbing by all means, was deemed to be unsportsmanlike by the school and coach Kirck was suspended for one match.

Sacred Heart Academy suspended coach Jason Kirck after the 92-4 victory over Lyman Hall on January 3 in US' Connecticut and issued an apology, the Associated Press reported.

“Sacred Heart Academy values the lessons taught and cultivated through athletic participation including ethical and responsible behavior, leadership and strength of character and respect for one’s opponents,” Sister Sheila O’Neill, the school's president, wrote.

“Sacred Heart Academy Administration and Athletics are deeply remorseful for the manner through with the outcome of the game was achieved," she added.

Tom Lipka, the coach of Lyman Hall, told the Hartford Courant that the Kirck’s team “showed no mercy throughout.”

“Sacred Heart pressed for most of the first half then called it off and went into a tight man-to-man defense trying to get steals,” Lipka said.
“They fast-breaked the entire game right to the end. They never went into a zone and continued to push the ball up the court and shoot threes whenever they could,” he continued. “They showed no mercy throughout.”

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which oversees high school sports in the state, said it runs a program called “Class Act” which teaches coaches to be aware of the competitive balance in games and manage to score “in a manner that is sportsmanlike and respectful of opponents.”

Sacred Heart is not among the schools that have participated in that program, the organization said, as per AP.

I heard about this on a podcast and when I searched it on google, I actually got links to a different story as well - this kind of thing has apparently happened before:
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- A Southern California high school basketball coach has been suspended and faces accusations of mercilessly running up the score after his team won a game 161-2, one of the most lopsided scores in state history.

Arroyo Valley High girls' coach Michael Anderson was suspended for two games after the victory last week against Bloomington High.

Anderson said that he wasn't trying to run up the score or embarrass the opposition. His team had won four previous games by at least 70 points, and Bloomington had already lost a game by 91.

"The game just got away from me," Anderson told the San Bernardino Sun on Friday. "I didn't play any starters in the second half. I didn't expect them to be that bad. I'm not trying to embarrass anybody."

He says if he had it to do again, he'd have played only reserves after the first quarter, or, "I wouldn't play the game at all."

But Bloomington coach Dale Chung says Arroyo Valley used a full-court press for the entire first half to lead 104-1 at halftime.

"People shouldn't feel sorry for my team," Chung said. "They should feel sorry for his team, which isn't learning the game the right way."

Anderson has served one game of the suspension, a game his team won 80-19 with his son Nick at the helm. He'll return after sitting out one more.

"He's a great X's and O's coach," Chung said. "Ethically? Not so much. He knows what he did was wrong."

You couldn't make it up.
did these coaches give all their players a chance to play--and once the team was well ahead a substantially on-court time to second stringers? If not, they were not coaching well. Back in the 1960s, I went to a high school for my last 2 years where we had an outstanding coach, with a vey successful time--won the provincial championships in our league--small schools--one year and made it to the championships the other year--even though we were the smallest, or nearly the smallest school in our league--my graduating class had 12 or 13 students. He always put second stringers on for a lot of court time when we got substantially ahead--and pulled them, of course, if things got close. This wasn't just giving everyone a chance, it also involved team building by: 1. making everyone on the team feel part of the team; and 2. developing actual, not just practice, competition skills for all players in case first-stingers got injured, ill, were fouled out, or were otherwise unavailable for games, and 3. helping give the second stringers confidence by placing them against the first-stringers of a weaker team.
If the coaches discussed in weren't doing this, yeah, they deserved their suspensions for bad coaching decisions. If they were doing this, & their teams were not doing a lot of fouling the suspensions were unwarranted, and excessively p. c. and the high school basketball organizations might want to think about the levels of their leagues.
 

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Parity is the soul of competition.
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zorq

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Jarhyn, I stand by my observation that there is "no objective morality." The slop is sloppy.

I think a great deal of daily human interaction is implied and inferred. By that I mean that communication is imprecise even under ideal circumstances. The goals of individuals, and the weight given to those goals, are hidden from others and often hidden from even themselves. It is futile to map the motivations of all interacting humans, and as these motivations factor into the matrix of weighing morality of choices, it makes the whole thing a murky mess.

Further, the fuzzy part of the fuzzy logic doesn't ever disappear. We can try to pin down all negative, positive, and mixed effects and outcomes, along with each one's relative importance and the risk assessment of each. And the more we do that, the better our answer becomes, but it never completely resolves. It isn't just complex, it is too complex. In my opinion, it's too complex to bother wrestling with on a day to day basis.

It's far more easy to acknowledge the hidden variables and just say that the system of morality I employ isn't going to be the same as anyone else's. When that thought is distributed onto a sizeable population of moral actors, it has the same essential meaning, to me, as the statement, "There is no objective morality."

We don't know and usually can't know the exact best thing to do all the time.
 

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In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
There was a student in my high school who was mathematically gifted. I remember one particular test where he wrecked the curve for the entire rest of the class. Should he have been told to ease up, lest his mathematical gifts humiliate the other students? Should a long distance runner hold back from achieving a personal best if she is too far ahead of the competition? If not, why not?
Learning is not a competition, so your math example is silly.
His performance affected our scores, however.
That performance affected your adjusted scores. So what?
So, we were competing against each other.
You were allegedly competing through scores, not learning.
But how strange to say learning is not a competition.
It is strange to say that learning is a competition.
I didn't say it was a competition, but students compete against each other.
If people are competing against one another, it is a competition. In any event, the alleged competition is through the scores, not the learning.
Sports are indeed a competition. The entire premise is to beat the opponent doing whatever the sport is.
Yes, do you have a point? Do you understand that team that wins 94 to 4 also wins if the score is 74 to 14?
Yes, and I understand one is more impressive than another, and that higher scores indicate better achievement.
Not necessarily on both counts. In the cases above, 94-4 indicates better achievement if one only is interested in a score. A blow out is a blow out - after some point the score differential doesn't matter.
If you really cannot distinguish between a team sport where score differential matters not and achieving a personal best in an individual sport, there is no hope for rational discussion.
I did not say I could not distinguish between them.
I observed you have a problem distinguishing between them. Your response simply provides supporting evidence for my observation.
You observed no such thing. I asked for evidence of a moral difference, which nobody so far has furnished.
I observed what I observed. Your responses continue to confirm my observation.
I'm asking for the moral difference. They are both competitions. You clearly do not expect any runner to hold back on their performance lest they hurt the feelings of the other competitors, yet you expect team sports players to collectively hold back their performance lest they hurt the feelings of the other competitors.
I seen races where faster runners have decided to run backwards to deliberately embarrass other racers. Running up a score is done to embarrass the other team.
So, you've decided they did it to embarrass the other team? What evidence do you have of that?
My eyes and ears - I saw what their faces and reactions and I heard what they were saying.
Running as fast as one can in an individual sport is an expression of one's individual talent. In addition, improving one's time is a way to gauge one's progress.

Winning 94 to 4 as opposed to 54 to 10 does neither of the above.
Of course it does. A team that scores higher points is a more skilled team than one who scores lower points.
A blow out is a blow out - it is foolish to think that the score differential in a blow out can be used to rank skill levels. In competition, transitivity does not logically hold - if Team A beats team B by 90 while Team C beats team B by 44 points, it does not follow that Team A is more skilled than Team C.
What's the moral difference, and why?
See above and read Jarhyn's explanation as well.
I do not take moral lessons from Jarhyn. Jarhyn's post at #17 is further evidence that I am right to do so.
Sure Jan, whatever makes you feel more comfortable.
 

Rhea

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I remember I was in grade school and my older sister was in high school. The high school football team won every game and never had a point scored against them, winning the state title. Makes me wonder if such a thing was talked about back then.
They were clearly in the wrong division, not helping them grow or improve at all.
 

ZiprHead

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I remember I was in grade school and my older sister was in high school. The high school football team won every game and never had a point scored against them, winning the state title. Makes me wonder if such a thing was talked about back then.
They were clearly in the wrong division, not helping them grow or improve at all.
Flint Northern was number two in the state rankings at the time.
 

Toni

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Causing discomfort to others can be placed on a moral scale. It can be a moral thing or an immoral thing depending on the circumstances. Here's an exercise in morality for Metaphor. Imagine a situation in which causing others discomfort feels like a moral thing and then imagine a situation in which causing others discomfort is an immoral thing. What did you come up with?
This does not help to answer my questions.

Evidently, some people agree that some threshold was crossed by the coach when his team beat another team by a large number of points. This seems to be predicated on the idea that some unnecessary 'discomfort' at the magnitude of the loss was caused, though nobody appears to think it was somehow unethical to win the game, but merely to win by too much.

Does this apply only to high school teams and not collegiate sports? Why or why not?

Did the girls have a moral obligation to play more poorly as well as the coach instructing them to do so? Why or why not?

Does a high school long distance runner have an obligation to do less than her best if she is winning by a large margin? Why or why not?

Is asking a team to perform at less than their best effort a more ethical choice than winning by a large margin? Why? What about an individual?

EDITED: And why is the default assumption that the girls did this primarily to cause discomfort, instead of (as I would expect a sports team to do), playing to the utmost of their ability?
The default assumption is that the coach is an asshole who is much more interested in running up a score than in fair competition.

In a sport such as basketball, there are 5 starting players who are the best and then the second string for substitutions, and a third string, etc. who usually don’t get much play time.

A coach who is interested in fair play abs developing his team abs the skills of all his players would pull his starting players once it became apparent that they were badly outmatching their opponents. Second string goes in. Again, if they are still badly out performing the opponents, either the bench warmers go in OR the coach instructs them to only take shots after X number of passes or only from a certain distance or only the kid who rarely gets a shot: they get all the shots. You do your best to make it a fair match—and to give players who aren’t on the court much more time and the chance to improve. Otherwise, you unnecessarily demoralize your opponents, don’t give your less good players a chance to play and significantly risk injuries to both teams. Demoralized teams sometimes begin to throw a lot of elbows, etc. Players on teams that deliberately run up scores are not improving their skills and are merely learning to be bullies.

In individual races, where the winner is an individual, then yes, your runner gets to go for their best time in every race. Points are awarded to teams based on the number of runners placing high. And if you have an entire team that is much faster than the competition, do be it but you should be looking for more competitive opportunities. And good runners teach other runners, even if they are beating them.
 

Toni

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In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
There was a student in my high school who was mathematically gifted. I remember one particular test where he wrecked the curve for the entire rest of the class. Should he have been told to ease up, lest his mathematical gifts humiliate the other students? Should a long distance runner hold back from achieving a personal best if she is too far ahead of the competition? If not, why not?
It’s not unusual for one student to regularly blow the curve for any class. The instructor has some choices, though. They can set an absolute grading scale, so if the entire class scores 100, they all get A’s, etc. in more subjective classes, they can grade very gifted students with greater rigor than the rest of the class. I’ve seen that done. I’ve also seen instructors add bonus questions that anyone may attempt but which are intended to give the very gifted student a challenge. And I’ve seen instructors give certain students a different test altogether. A good instructor does not share that they do this with the class and may or may not choose to do so with the especially gifted : Lawrence, I’m only awarding you a B+ on this essay because it is not up to the standard I know you are capable of achieving. Please put greater thought into how you support your major and minor themes…

And so on. I’ve seen that done.
 

Jarhyn

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I tend to think consistent victories with razor thin margins and wide team coverage denotes the greatest level of skill in the game regardless.

At any rate, I choose to respond with denial, and all necessary action to so deny, anyone from leveraging beyond the accords that we make to our imperfection.

If that can't be a shared principle of the thing that denotes personhood, then I will treat such people as can't share it as one would treat a cat who cannot be trusted not to scratch and bite when offered food from the hand: with gloves, and all necessary training, and as mere selfish animal.

First, we are equals. Second, we will leave each other alone except in the ways we consent. These are the very basic rules of ethics. I reject the solipsist, the selfish at the expense of others against their consent.

The one thing that is beneath me is the person who believe themselves above.

On this, I can demand symmetry. I have tried all my life to see any thing that does not come back around to this in any morality or ethics that does not itself come around to the solipsistic paradigm.

Maybe your solipsism revolves around your DNA. Congrats, that's racism, genetic solipsism. Wide as a skin tone or narrow as a family...

Maybe your solipsism revolves around your individual self, that's just pure solipsism.

There can even be cultural solipsism, which is really weird and gets into conversations that the closest words ever used for such things are "god" of the lower case g. We use different words for the concept such as Jingoism and Nationalism and Religiousity

I try not to be solipsistic: I want to pursue my actualization of self to the best of my abilities, and I recognize that to do that, I must keep this as compatible as possible with the goals of others.

What I do know is that I will not let another have power over me and that means not taking power over others, and not letting others take "power over".

Symmetry, or mutually assured destruction!

Simple ethical bedrocks, and not "relative" but based on the very concept of where we derive rights from.

And pertinent to the discussion,
Sports are what happens when two parties CONSENT to pretend they are unequal, and play fight within a bounded set of rules, for the sake of their own enjoyment of the activity, for the sake of each other.

If you violate this, that is UNSPORTSPERSONLY BEHAVIOR! Because you are not being "a person behaving as playing at sport"

The coach got gigged for being UNSPORTSPERSONLY. They used the leverage they had (assumed authority over team play direction), and applied that so as to get what he wanted at the expense of the minimal demands of the activity as for the other team.

I can see how all this can be really hard to swallow were one to wish to continue being able to justify or defend some form of bullying after some solipsistic end.
 

Metaphor

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You look like you want a simple rule of thumb, but there is none.
It is more fundamental than that. I don't understand how this moral rule has arisen in the first place, and why it appears to me to be inconsistent with other aspects of schooling and other aspects of sport.

There are countless variables to consider and even if I had the time to explain all the rules of morality to you it wouldn't have done you any good because I would only have explained MY morality. That's because there is no such thing as an absolute morality. My simplified rule of thumb is "don't be an asshole," but that depends on a person's definition of "asshole." (Which just reaffirms the lack of absolute morality.)

I find that conservatives disagree more widely with liberals on the definition of "asshole" than each group disagrees internally. I think that's because conservatives have a stunted sense of empathy compared to liberals. We honestly will likely never agree on the morality of the school in the OP because it is unlikely you will ever recognize the value of some of the objectives the school is trying to achieve.
It isn't a question of failing to recognise the value of stated objectives (though I will note that the school has not stated them the way it is implied they have in this thread). I could understand the school trying to achieve values I don't agree with. It is the lack of coherence that needs explaining to me, and how some values have apparently been chosen over others, even where in other cases the other values are chosen.
 

Metaphor

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You sound surprised. Have you considered that when high schools sponsor athletic activities that they might be doing so to achieve more than one objective?
I am more than surprised. If somebody had told me this story casually, I would have reckoned they were pulling my leg, or had been taken in by fake news. It is certainly the case that I cannot make sense of the commentary around it:

“Sacred Heart Academy Administration and Athletics are deeply remorseful for the manner through with the outcome of the game was achieved," she added.
What was unethical about the manner in which it was achieved? Did Sacred Heart not play by the rules?

“Sacred Heart pressed for most of the first half then called it off and went into a tight man-to-man defense trying to get steals,” Lipka said.
“They fast-breaked the entire game right to the end. They never went into a zone and continued to push the ball up the court and shoot threes whenever they could,” he continued. “They showed no mercy throughout.”
I freely confess I have no idea what is being described here. Is this bad sportsmanship? Why? If it were done at a college level, would the same behaviour have become sportsmanlike? Why?

What could have turned the coach's behaviour from unsportsmanlike to ethical? Is there evidence the coach mistreated his players? Do individual athletes have the ethical duty to withhold from their best performance to make the competition losers feel better about themselves? Why or why not?
It IS poor sportsmanship to give an opponent such a drubbing in any sport I've ever watched. Normally, in basketball, if a team finds itself far outscoring their opponents, they pull their starters and substitute their 2nd string to give them some practice and if that's not enough to even up the match, they put in their 3rd string or bench warmers or the coach institutes rules about how many passes you must make before taking a shot or where you can shoot from, etc. This normally happens in high school if there's a 20 point gap in points or more. If it gets smaller, then the more skilled team will start subbing back in their best players. Every team wants to win. Only assholes want to rub their opponents' noses in it.

Speaking of when my kids played sports in youth or highschool leagues or even college: What I absolutely cared the most about was that the coaches were good people: that they cared about fair play and sportsmanship and treating everyone well. Skills and good conditioning, fitness, etc. were next. Wins are great but not humiliating your opponent.
So, is it unfair for long distance runners to perform at their utmost, if they are leaving their opponents in the dust?
 

Metaphor

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In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
There was a student in my high school who was mathematically gifted. I remember one particular test where he wrecked the curve for the entire rest of the class. Should he have been told to ease up, lest his mathematical gifts humiliate the other students? Should a long distance runner hold back from achieving a personal best if she is too far ahead of the competition? If not, why not?
It’s not unusual for one student to regularly blow the curve for any class. The instructor has some choices, though. They can set an absolute grading scale, so if the entire class scores 100, they all get A’s, etc. in more subjective classes, they can grade very gifted students with greater rigor than the rest of the class. I’ve seen that done. I’ve also seen instructors add bonus questions that anyone may attempt but which are intended to give the very gifted student a challenge. And I’ve seen instructors give certain students a different test altogether. A good instructor does not share that they do this with the class and may or may not choose to do so with the especially gifted : Lawrence, I’m only awarding you a B+ on this essay because it is not up to the standard I know you are capable of achieving. Please put greater thought into how you support your major and minor themes…

And so on. I’ve seen that done.
Some of what you have described is deeply problematic (grading a student based not on the objective quality of their work but based on the teacher's perception of lack of effort).

The teacher sharing the scaled and unscaled scores (not identifiable by student, obviously) with the class was actually relevant to the unit we were studying at the time (statistics).
 

Metaphor

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I remember I was in grade school and my older sister was in high school. The high school football team won every game and never had a point scored against them, winning the state title. Makes me wonder if such a thing was talked about back then.
But did the team score 40+ points against their opponents every game? I have known some undefeated teams before and everyone else really wants to beat them. You can learn a lot by playing against someone more skilled and/or more talented than you are. But then there are the assholes who really really run up scores and act like thugs. No one wants to play against them. They risk injury to feed other people's egos and nothing at all is learned.
This language is very curious to me. There is no accusation that the Sacred Heart girls 'risked injury' or 'acted like thugs'. What would that even mean? Certainly if they had a consistently high number of fouls called against them I could see it, but many people here appear to be begging the question.
 

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In the Sacred Hill situation, the team did not ease up at all. The coach is a first class asshole and is lucky he was not suspended for more games.
There was a student in my high school who was mathematically gifted. I remember one particular test where he wrecked the curve for the entire rest of the class. Should he have been told to ease up, lest his mathematical gifts humiliate the other students? Should a long distance runner hold back from achieving a personal best if she is too far ahead of the competition? If not, why not?
It’s not unusual for one student to regularly blow the curve for any class. The instructor has some choices, though. They can set an absolute grading scale, so if the entire class scores 100, they all get A’s, etc. in more subjective classes, they can grade very gifted students with greater rigor than the rest of the class. I’ve seen that done. I’ve also seen instructors add bonus questions that anyone may attempt but which are intended to give the very gifted student a challenge. And I’ve seen instructors give certain students a different test altogether. A good instructor does not share that they do this with the class and may or may not choose to do so with the especially gifted : Lawrence, I’m only awarding you a B+ on this essay because it is not up to the standard I know you are capable of achieving. Please put greater thought into how you support your major and minor themes…

And so on. I’ve seen that done.
Some of what you have described is deeply problematic (grading a student based not on the objective quality of their work but based on the teacher's perception of lack of effort).

The teacher sharing the scaled and unscaled scores (not identifiable by student, obviously) with the class was actually relevant to the unit we were studying at the time (statistics).
Sure. I can see why an instructor might use grades to illustrate how an outlier can skew a distribution curve. Funny how they don’t do it with the lowest score.

It’s still a choice that instructors make: a curve based on aggregate test scores, an objective grading scale or even a combo: generally an objective scale but if a lot of people bomb a test, grading on a curve. And…not including outliers, whether they are high or low in setting the curve.

I don’t teach but I’ve taken a lot of classes. My observation is that students value fairness and transparency.
 

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Causing discomfort to others can be placed on a moral scale. It can be a moral thing or an immoral thing depending on the circumstances. Here's an exercise in morality for Metaphor. Imagine a situation in which causing others discomfort feels like a moral thing and then imagine a situation in which causing others discomfort is an immoral thing. What did you come up with?
This does not help to answer my questions.

Evidently, some people agree that some threshold was crossed by the coach when his team beat another team by a large number of points. This seems to be predicated on the idea that some unnecessary 'discomfort' at the magnitude of the loss was caused, though nobody appears to think it was somehow unethical to win the game, but merely to win by too much.

Does this apply only to high school teams and not collegiate sports? Why or why not?

Did the girls have a moral obligation to play more poorly as well as the coach instructing them to do so? Why or why not?

Does a high school long distance runner have an obligation to do less than her best if she is winning by a large margin? Why or why not?

Is asking a team to perform at less than their best effort a more ethical choice than winning by a large margin? Why? What about an individual?

EDITED: And why is the default assumption that the girls did this primarily to cause discomfort, instead of (as I would expect a sports team to do), playing to the utmost of their ability?
The default assumption is that the coach is an asshole who is much more interested in running up a score than in fair competition.
Why?

In a sport such as basketball, there are 5 starting players who are the best and then the second string for substitutions, and a third string, etc. who usually don’t get much play time.

A coach who is interested in fair play abs developing his team abs the skills of all his players would pull his starting players once it became apparent that they were badly outmatching their opponents. Second string goes in. Again, if they are still badly out performing the opponents, either the bench warmers go in OR the coach instructs them to only take shots after X number of passes or only from a certain distance or only the kid who rarely gets a shot: they get all the shots. You do your best to make it a fair match—and to give players who aren’t on the court much more time and the chance to improve. Otherwise, you unnecessarily demoralize your opponents, don’t give your less good players a chance to play and significantly risk injuries to both teams. Demoralized teams sometimes begin to throw a lot of elbows, etc. Players on teams that deliberately run up scores are not improving their skills and are merely learning to be bullies.
Who says the coach didn't bring in any new players?

In individual races, where the winner is an individual, then yes, your runner gets to go for their best time in every race. Points are awarded to teams based on the number of runners placing high. And if you have an entire team that is much faster than the competition, do be it but you should be looking for more competitive opportunities. And good runners teach other runners, even if they are beating them.

So, runners are allowed to be 'assholes', because the rules are different for that sport? That's what you appear to be saying to me.
 

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I remember I was in grade school and my older sister was in high school. The high school football team won every game and never had a point scored against them, winning the state title. Makes me wonder if such a thing was talked about back then.
But did the team score 40+ points against their opponents every game? I have known some undefeated teams before and everyone else really wants to beat them. You can learn a lot by playing against someone more skilled and/or more talented than you are. But then there are the assholes who really really run up scores and act like thugs. No one wants to play against them. They risk injury to feed other people's egos and nothing at all is learned.
This language is very curious to me. There is no accusation that the Sacred Heart girls 'risked injury' or 'acted like thugs'. What would that even mean? Certainly if they had a consistently high number of fouls called against them I could see it, but many people here appear to be begging the question.
I’m sure the newspapers never delved into anything beyond Cauchy being suspended. Generally, it is true that girls are less likely to be thugs s d to deliberately try to hurt their opponents but I’ve seen it happen in boys’ teams. And girls can get pretty physical, too. It’s not as common.
 
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