Of all the things I’ve been called through my years of writing, analyzing and discussing sports, a touchy-feely, it-doesn’t-matter-who-wins-as-long-as-everybody-has-fun, everybody-gets-a-trophy bleeding heart ... is not one of them. I believe in competition. I believe in keeping score. I believe in winners and losers, and in playing to win, even at youth sports levels.
Having said all that, I also believe that coaches like Greg Wise at Yates High School in Houston should be prohibited from ever being around kids, let alone coaching them.
Yates High is the top-ranked high school boys’ basketball team in the country, filled with Division I college prospects. In most cases, the players would be celebrated for their talent and their success. Instead, thanks to their classless coach and his willing enablers within the school administration, they have become the most embarrassing team in America.
Wise apparently believes his job description calls for him to not only to coach players, win games and collect championships — but also to humiliate opposing players for the glorification of his and his players’ egos.
Some sample scores from the Lions’ undefeated season: 142-80, 163-71, 148-49, 139-51, 170-35, 142-52 and 125-26. There are more, but you get the point. If Wise is willing to spare one.
True, the run-it-up scores alone are not enough to convict Wise and his players of completely ignoring the rules of sportsmanship in athletic competition; sometimes one team is just that much better than everyone else. However, the methods of achieving those incredible point totals and margins of victory — in 32-minute high school games — would be enough to convince any impartial jury.
Wise regularly has his team full-court pressing in the fourth quarter of games in which it leads by 40, 50, even 60 or more against helpless teenage kids. Press, trap, steal, score. Press, trap, steal, score.
He even has his kids commit fouls in the final minutes of massive blowouts, just to get the ball back and reach the magical 100-point plateau by which they define themselves. It works, as you’d imagine, as the Lions set a national record with 15 consecutive 100-point games this season.
While the coach deserves all the scorn directed his way for perverting the nature of competition in this manner, his school administrators should also be ashamed of themselves for allowing such a display of classlessness. You’d think that at least one board member or principal or athletic director would have a sit-down with Wise and remind him of the principles on which school sports are based. Failing that, would it be too much to ask for a few parents to let their voices be heard?
That’s right — the parents. Where are they while their sons are busy adding to a 95-point lead with a full-court, fourth-quarter press? Where are they after the game while the kids are dressing and the coach is talking to the media? Where are they at the next day’s practice? Do they not see anything wrong with what their boys are being taught? And if they don’t, can’t they see it in the eyes of the parents on the other side of the gym?
The scoreboard says Greg Wise and his players are winners.
The scoreboard lies.
Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.