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FIRST PERSON: Would Jesus run up the score?
by Brett Maragni
Date: Jan 29, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)--100-0. That was the final score of a recent girls’ high school basketball game in Texas. Quick, what words come to your mind when you read that score? Rout? Massacre? Slaughter? Lopsided? Or how about decency? Mercy? Sportsmanship?

Now what if I told you that the winning team was from a Christian school? It’s true. In a recent game the Covenant School, a Christian school based in Dallas, put 100 points on the scoreboard, while keeping Dallas Academy scoreless.

To the credit of the winning school, an apology was issued and a forfeit was offered. But the head coach, Micah Grimes, disagreed with the apology, stating in an e-mail to the Dallas Morning News: “My values and my beliefs would not allow me to run up the score on any opponent…And it will not allow me to apologize for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity.” My values. My beliefs. My girls.

They may be his values, his beliefs and his girls, but it is no longer his job. The Covenant School fired him. He claims he did not run up the score, but witnesses say that even after a 59-0 halftime score, “his” girls resumed shooting beyond the 3-point line in the fourth quarter. Reportedly the fans encouraged the team to hit the century mark. The opposing coach, Jeremy Civello, acknowledges that Covenant stopped scoring with about four minutes left in the game, after achieving their triple-digit goal.

There is no mercy rule in girls’ high school basketball, but Edd Burleson, the director of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, believes the Golden Rule should have been applied in this game.

Grimes is certainly not the first coach to be accused of running up a score. In 1916 Georgia Tech’s football team defeated Cumberland College 222-0. The coach? Only the namesake of college football’s most famous trophy, John Heisman.

In 1968 the Ohio State Buckeyes were mauling their bitter rival, the Michigan Wolverines, on the gridiron. The score was 42-14 late in the game. Ohio State scored another touchdown and instead of taking the extra point, went for two. Coach Woody Hayes later stated that the reason he went for two was because he couldn’t go for three. In college basketball, Billy Tubbs was known for running up scores, famously quipping that if opponents don’t like it, they should get better.

For the public, humor may take a little bit of the bite out of this unsportsmanlike behavior, but does it excuse it? Hardly. Perhaps some would say that this experience is actually good for the girls of Dallas Academy, helping prepare them for the harsh reality of a competitive world. But should that lesson come at the hands of a school that carries the name of Christ?

Others might say that letting up on an opponent is even more insulting to them than giving your best until the clock runs out. Such reasoning is simplistic. Pulling back on the throttle when the game is completely out of reach is actually good stewardship of your resources by helping protect players from injury. Opposing teams understand this. Letting up shows respect for your opponent.

There is only one reason to pursue 100 points on the scoreboard when you basketball team is holding the other team scoreless: personal glory. For those who are supposed to live for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), there is no room for such glory seeking.
--30--
Brett Maragni is senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel of Jacksonville, Fla.

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