Parents Charge Texas High School Football Coach With Bullying After His Team Beat Rival By 91-0

23751250_BG1Since we have been discussing the Jets-Patriots brawl, we might as well add a story out of Texas where a coach is facing a charge of “bullying” because his team, Aledo High School, beat Western Hills High School by 91-0. Tim Buchanan will now have to answer for his actions after various parents filed complaints that he allowed his team to do so well. I find this type of objection to be mystifying. I have four kids in sports. I feel bad when they lose but I tell them that you do your best and try harder next time. Moreover, I am not sure what this coach is supposed to do. He has a really good team. Are they supposed to intentionally ground the ball? I think the demeaning thing is not losing to a better team but having your parents demand that they let you score.

Buchanan said that he took out his first string players in the first quarter and went to the second string and then went to his third string. They kept scoring. It was no surprise. His team is 7-0. and has scored 77 points or more in their last four games. They are really good, alright? I agree with Buchanan when he insists “I’m not gonna tell a kid that comes out here and practices six to seven hours a week trying to get ready for football games.’Hey, you can’t score a touchdown if you get in, you’re gonna have to take a knee,’ cause that may be the only touchdown that kid gets to score in his high school career.”

Yet, parents believe that he is unsportsmanlike in not somehow stopping his kids from scoring. It is the type of attitude that I find so bizarre among parents today. We have previously discussed how new guidelines demand that all kids get awards at award ceremonies. I have sat through such events where dozens of kids get the “best for trying award” or the equivalent to avoid any one kid or group of kids from being singled out. I am not sure how that prepares them for life. There are going to be people who are better at things than they are. Better athletes, better students, better artists. They need to learn to accept defeat as well as victory.

The kids at Western Hills were against a better team. Aledo is the top ranked team in the state for its division. I am sure they knew that. I am also sure that they could handle the defeat. It was the parents who seem incapable to maintaining perspective and want to manipulate games artificially to achieve “better results.”

I do believe that coaches should pull their top players in lopsided games and Buchanan says that is precisely what he did. However, it is not unsportsmanlike or bullying to play a game to a lopsided conclusion. It is called life. This is just one of its lessons.

58 thoughts on “Parents Charge Texas High School Football Coach With Bullying After His Team Beat Rival By 91-0

  1. Would the whiners prefer the Bearcats had taken a knee at the 1 yard line, and then just rang up safeties against them?

  2. In pro ball and some college ball they call it “running up the score”:

    In North American sports, “running up the score” occurs when a team continues to play in such a way as to score additional points after the outcome of the game is no longer in question and the team is assured of winning. In the United States and Canada, it is considered poor sportsmanship to “run up the score” in most circumstances.

    (Wikipedia). One good way to avoid it is to take out first string players and give some of the bench some time on the field.

  3. As long as the coach gave his bench all the playing time after the score was so lopsided, there was no foul or poor sportsmanship. There is no cause for complaint here.

  4. when I was in high school, we were beating the snot out of a lesser opponent. everybody on the team had played and they couldn’t stop us. we started running the same off tackle run at half speed over and over. the other team just quit and the play kept working. coach put the starters back in and the quarterback started throwing out of bounds every play which stopped the clock and slowed the game down. finally we put the scrubs back in and they ran up the score even worse running very vanilla running game that a decent team could have easily defended. there is no good answer to a situation like this. maybe football needs a “ten run rule” like girls softball….

  5. Football is not a gentlemen’s sport. America is not a country of gentlemen. It seems the parents are not very good examples of sportsmanship either. It could have been a teaching moment, but then generally speaking, lip service is about as deep as it goes.

    My husband gets furious when college teams run up the score. Especially if it affects rankings. It wouldn’t hurt to have made some allowances. But then the adage from Lombardy that “winning is everything,” is how we live in sports. Maybe we should redefine winning. But then fanatics might go on strike, and the owners of the pros…..well, you know!

  6. I agree 100% with you Prof. Turley. We need to reward success, not punish it.

    If they want to blame a coach, blame the coach of the losing team. If they don’t want such a big win, that coach could have forfeited the game anytime he wanted, but perhaps that would have been considered unsportsmanlike conduct.

    It really comes down to what Prof. Turley said. Big wins and big losses are part of life.

  7. As randyjet said, if the coach emptied his bench what are you going to do. Tell kids who practice and never get to play to play half speed? That’s a HORRIBLE message! In high school softball and baseball and in American Legion baseball, which I coached for years, there is what is known unofficially and indelicately as the “slaughter” rule. If it’s the 5th inning, and your team is up by 10, 12, 15, runs[I’ve seen all 3 benchmarks], then the game is over. at the end of 3 quarters in football, if the score is say, 45-0, game over. I have never heard of a “slaughter” rule in football. Mespo, paging mespo!!

  8. This is BS…. Aledo has a great team…. Penalize them for playing great is like the craziest thing I have ever heard….

  9. In baseball, just prior to the slaughter rule being invoked, I would tell my players to not steal. They were to do EVERYTHING else @ full tilt, but no stealing. I would invoke that rule in the 4th inning when we were up by over the aforementioned slaughter rule benchmark. I didn’t invent that. It’s standard face saving all the way up to MLB. In football, you don’t throw long passes, run most every play. I had kids on my baseball teams who were pissed about not being able to steal. And, that’s where coaching becomes MUCH more important than teaching a kid how to bunt, hit the cutoff, etc. That’s where you teach kids empathy and respect for their opponent.

  10. I have written about this topic before and this whole “everybody wins” mentality makes me ill! Part of being a member of a sports team is overcoming lose. You learn how to win and lose with dignity! You should be upset when you lose! You should immediately do some self searching to find out how to improve! These parents are ruining life lessons for their kids, taking away from them the tools that will help them when they are older.
    This coach did everything he could do to lesson the competition. If I were on the opposing team, I would prefer to get beat by the best they have to offer. Humiliating would be to have the stronger team take a knee or intentionally mess up.
    Parents, let your kids struggle and overcome! They will be better equipt when they grow up to handle lifes ups and downs! You are teaching your kids to wuss out when things are not dandy! An award for “best try” should not exist. Best attitude, MVP, Most aggressive, Highest scorer…definitely! There is no try, do or do not!

  11. I used to be sad that I got no trophies in school like the other kids, until I got one. I got it for basically “best try” or “on the team” or something dumb like that. I knew it was crap, and I wasn’t proud of it. That was in the late ’70s. I’m sorry that we’ve gone even more in that direction. It’s better to learn how to lose gracefully.

  12. I disagree with the majority view here and I’ve been in this situation. I played in a lacrosse league for ages (I think) 10-15. My team had a large group who were all the same age and started playing together at 10. When we were all 15 we were so much better than every other team that most games were a slaughter.

    Running up the score is poor sportsmanship in all sports and should be avoided, particularly when children are involved. The justification for sports is to teach sportsmanship and that winning and loosing can be done with honor. Running up the score teaches that the powerful can do what they want.

    The team did not do all that they could to avoid running up the score. On my team, when the game was decided in the first quarter we would put in the 2nd or 3rd string (i.e. me) and then swap positions around. On one or two occasions our coach told us to help and coach the opposing players during the game.

    In business, war, and other ‘adult’ occupations, when you are profoundly overmatched you give up early. You can’t do this in sports. The loosing team had no alternative but to continue to hopeless humiliation for the full duration of the game.

    That being said, to make any kind of official complaint about poor sportsmanship is absurd.

  13. If your team is good enough for third stringers to score easily, you call the game off – or at least, that’s what civilized people would do. Most kids’ baseball leagues have a “mercy” rule and so do some football leagues. All leagues should have it to protect the players, especially since they are kids.

    Remember the game in 2012 in the Boston area where FIVE kids between ages 10-12 suffered concussions, with a final score of 52-0? That league DID have a mercy rule (28 points), but the referees, coaches and parents ignored the score and ignored the concussions, wanting the game to continue while kids were being beaten up. The losing team couldn’t field enough players in the fourth quarter, and the game STILL continued, and the losing coach wanted his players to “take something away from the game”. The only thing that was taken away was their desire to play, or their ABILITY to play. Some kids missed long periods of school, many have not played sports since then because they can’t.

    Why aren’t the leagues and teams segregated into divisions, to have teams of similar talent playing each other? In college football, teams never play levels further than one away from their own (e.g. I-A vs. I-AA, Division III vs. NAIA, etc.) And even if safety and equal competition weren’t a concern, what sort of scumbag takes glee in beating a team by that score? How insecure and pathetic does someone have to be to schedule and play teams with that don’t even belong on the same field?

    There’s no glory in victory if there’s no risk of defeat.

  14. Excerpted from:

    Undefeated Aledo, No. 1 in the Associated Press Class 4A state poll (the second-highest classification in the state), is racking up ridiculous yardage and crushing opponents this season. They are averaging just shy of 70 points per game, making some of those games essentially over before halftime.

    Where is the competitive aspect of the game?

  15. Throughout the history of football, the coaches of many teams, when significantly ahead, do various things, like putting in second and third team players, so that they can get some playing time and not humiliate the other team. In little league baseball, when a team gets to far out ahead, the rules allow for the game to be ended a couple of inning early. This coach shouldn’t be fired, but I would surely like to grill him on a couple of questions relating to decency, sportsmanship and humility. It’s just a game and I was told as a kid participating in team sports that these are the principles that we are supposed to be teaching our kids and to have fun. I think these coaches are just trying to gain notoriety so that can move up the coaching ranks. I wonder if it will work. It reminds me of some of the games prosecutors play for the same purpose.

  16. Why don’t they just stop tallying the score on the scoreboard when the spread reaches a certain point?

    One of my grandkids was instrumental in starting a girl’s soccer program at her high school. For the first 2 years everybody in their school’s league beat them by huge margins, so much so that all the Athletic Directors got together in the middle of their first season and decided to stop recording the goals on the scoreboard after a certain point spread was reached. They were all concerned that the girls would give up and the fledgling program would fail.

    In the middle of their second season they scored their first goal and when the game was over the opposing team threw an impromptu party for them on the field.

    My grandchild is now 3 years past college and that high school program is well established with no more need for scoreboard fixing.

  17. I posted a long comment but perhaps it is too long, because it hasn’t shown up. I live in Aledo and was present at the game. Coach Bucanan put in this second, third and fourth string teams after the first quarter, when the score reached 27-0. Aledo also stopped passing. Buchanan talked with the Western Hills coach during the game and the coach acknowledged that Buchanan was doing what he could to keep the score down, other than telling the players to lie down.

    Aledo is ranked #4 in the state; Western Hills is ranked #949. Aledo has won three state championships in the last five years. The UIL put us in the same district with Western Hills. I don’t know why. I do know that the Aledo coach and team would rather be playing teams that would give them a more competitive game.

    Aledo High School is well known for its football program, and numerous parents move here when their boys are small just so they’ll be able to play football on this team. This makes our talent pool very large.

  18. Jude, Understood. Not stealing doesn’t always help in baseball either. But, it’s a dignified and face saving way to honor your opponents plight.

  19. If you are on the third string and finally got into a game are you supposed to not score because you’re team is way ahead?

  20. It would seem that leagues might want to address the issue of lop-sided games or running up the score.

    But the question is whether winning a sports contest by a wide margin falls within the concept of bulling. I don’t think so.

    I would be interested to hear arguments that fairly played sports can some how constitute bullying. But I just do not see it.

  21. apieceofbluesky, Thank you very much, particularly for your extra effort. WordPress does eat comments on an all too frequent basis. In your case it was doubly horrible because you provide real perspective. I, and others, surmised this was the case. But to see the actual rankings, #4 vs. #949, gives us a numerical understanding of what a mismatch this was. It would be like the Cardinals or Red Sox, set to start the WS tonight playing, lets say…THE CUBS!!

  22. Thanks, Nick Spinelli. I think the Western Hills parent who filed the complaint was probably just very frustrated. Western Hills hasn’t won a game all year, and then to have play us… In addition to the score of 91-0 they’ve also lost 61-7, 62-10, and 63-10.

    My 11yo son doesn’t play football, but plays little league baseball. His team keeps getting trounced and skunked, and I’ll admit that with huge loss after huge loss, we are all very frustrated. I think the Western hills parent had a weak moment and did something dumb instead of letting the moment pass.

  23. In most Illinois High School sports, there is a slaughter rule. I believe that there is a running clock rule in football that speeds up the game so the score can’t get to such a lopsided result. I am surprised that Texas does not have a similar rule. There is no gain for any team to lose by that large of a score and yes it is a bad example of sportsmanship to continue to allow your team to run up the score.

  24. apieceofbluesky, You have the empathy that too many folks do not. As a parent and coach, I’ve been on both ends of these type games, although never quite this bad. I’ve had irate parents from our team when we got slaughtered and irate parents from other teams when they got slaughtered. However, I remember the knowledgeable parents who would also come up to me and say they knew I stopped our team from stealing bases and they appreciated it. Being a positive person, I remember those folks best. The great John Wooden said “The ideal coaching job would be @ an orphanage.” The Wizard of Westwood, indeed.

  25. Yes, they started the running clock, Aledo put in their third string, tried players out in unfamiliar positions, and started calling fair catch on each punt. They ran 32 snaps and scored 91 points.

    I think the parent who complained would have also been mad if Aledo players started taking a knee on every play. They probably would have complained that we were making them look bad by not even trying, and who do we think we are, etc.

  26. Boss, “Raises are on the way for whomever can complete this task fastest.”

    Tom, “Oh sorry boss, I can’t make Bob look like he does not have the skills needed to get ahead, so I’ll slow play and give him a chance.”

    Bob to himself, “Sucker!”

  27. This is another case of flip-flopped treatment or crimes and scandals.

    I first began seeing this in large scale during the Clinton administration, where crimes like the violation of the consitutional seperation of powers (Kosovo) was treated as a scandal by the press, but his behavior with women (Paula Jones) was treated as a crime.

    We must remember that private power is almost the equal of public — taboo and shame versus fines and detention. Abuse of public power is tyrany, abuse of private power is bullying.

  28. The better team won. Get over it.

    P Smith: “If your team is good enough for third stringers to score easily, you call the game off – or at least, that’s what civilized people would do. Most kids’ baseball leagues have a “mercy” rule and so do some football leagues. All leagues should have it to protect the players, especially since they are kids.”

    If you can’t take losing, than don’t play the game, and, no, civilized people wouldn’t call the game off or have ‘mercy rules’. That against the very idea of sport.

    One of the things I hear most often about the dubious value of sports in school is that it teaches ‘team work’ and stresses constant improvement and work toward a goal. Good. In life, there are winners and losers. You don’t get a trophy simply for existing. Same way in sports. There are winners, and there are losers, and to teach kids that you get a prize just for trying is not only complete BS, it teaches the wrong moral. Just because you show up doesn’t mean that you deserve a prize. Who knows? Perhaps next year the score will be 50-10. Even high school kids need to learn that you get rewarded for effort and that some teams are just better than others.

  29. Kraaken. Your comment made me think of the flick, Meet the Fockers. When DeNiro first meets Dustin Hoffman and Streisand he’s looking @ some of their son’s awards. DeNiro picks up a ribbon and says sarcastically, “Gee, I didn’t know they gave out ribbons for 13th place.”

  30. Wonder what the parents would say if their little darlings were on the losing side in the Georgia Tech vs. Cumberland game. Score was Georgia Tech 220, Cumberland 0.

  31. When my son was around six, he played on an in-door hockey team. The kids wore socks and the adults didn’t keep score but every single kid KNEW the score. When the game was over, they knew whether they had won or not. Adults are not fooling the kids. Competition is good. It makes you better next time.

  32. nick has the right idea with the mercy rule, but as long as the score is below 100, then it’s not really running up the score The kids won’t suffer long term consequences for losing big. If anyone is to be blamed, the league officials should be fined or reprimanded for scheduling such a game of mismatched teams and not having a mercy rule. The winning kids can’t take a knee on every play which would be even more embarrassing for the losing team. I feel bad for the losing team, but they will all recover.

  33. When I played high school football (50 years ago), we once had a game with a team from the little town of Reserve, New Mexico. It had been scheduled to fill a gap and with little apparent thought given to relative team strength. The result was an 82-0 score. Those of us who were starters did not play after the first quarter. By the time the second half started, our coach was playing our third string center at quarterback. It was frankly embarrassing to watch and no one felt any pride in the victory. Our coach apologized to the opposing coach after the game, but both of them understood that there had been no attempt to run up the score. Before the final buzzer sounded, we were instructed to show respect to the other players and to refrain from any celebratory demonstrations. The long bus ride back to El Paso was largely silent.

    Although schools are divided into districts determined by school size, it is inevitable that a blowout will occasionally happen. The only lessons to be learned from that type of game by either team are humility and graciousness. It is usually obvious whether a coach is attempting to run up a score, and if that is the case, criticism is justified. It is not, however, when a team has done everything possible to avoid humiliating an opponent. Should there be a mercy rule in football? Probably, because of the enhanced risk of injury when players are physically overmatched. But to suggest that a winning team refrain from playing hard, or deliberately make mistakes, disserves both teams.

  34. Particularly in football, the coach can’t tell the kids not to try hard. They will get hurt. Besides pulling the starters, removing some plays from the playbook (trick plays, long passes,etc.), and eating the clock, there is not much the coach can do when his team overpowers its opponent.

  35. Those parents are not doing their kids any favors. They’re creating what college admissions personnel today are calling “tea cups.” (google it)

    I remember this situation happening a handful of times when I was in high school. One time it was so bad that the coach called the JV team out of the bleachers at half-time and put them in. We still won. I don’t see what else this coach could have done.

  36. The El Paso Triple A franchise[Padres] just had a vote to change the name from Padres. There were several choices. The fans voted for the Chihuahua. Some Mexicans in the area think it’s insensitive. I looked @ the logo. It’s a Chihuahua w/ a mean face and pit bull collar. I don’t see it. Are we becoming a nation of PC dogma?

  37. My daughter has a Chihuahua and she’s dressing Minnie as Minnie Mouse for Halloween. She lives in the Twin Cities, so I sure hope it doesn’t offend anyone!

  38. These two teams shouldn’t be playing each other. It’s not good for either one to be playing the other.

    Too bad they can’t solve the imbalance like we used to do with our neighborhood baseball games. All kid comers could play (6-18 but birth certificates not required). Great effort was taken to make sure the teams were evenly matched. If one team was outperforming the other by a lot, there was a redistribution of talent. It was amazing how slow and clumsy the older kids were when one of the younger kids got a hit. And how slow they were running the bases when it was the younger kids chasing down their hit. Of course they got their speed and agility back when it was someone their own age or older on the other end of things. Amazing sense of fairness in the teenage boys who kept the game so organized.

  39. JT: “. . . you do your best and try harder next team.”

    True American esprit de corps — dump your loser teammates and find a select team.

  40. I see the comments since my first are rife with anti-social and sociopathic types, those who “think” it’s fun to beat up on people who can’t put up a fair fight. They sound like pro-war chickenhawks. Is your life so empty that you must live vicariously through mismatches like that in the story? You’re probably the type who said the A-11 football offense was “unfair” and should be banned because small teams were beating juggernauts.

    Team with players aspirating to play college football should play each other and face competition that will prepare them for college ball. Teams with players that will never get past high school should play each other and have fun. Where’s the problem with that? It’s only a problem if you’re the sort who likes to see humiliation and abuse (e.g. you also like domestic violence and rape).

  41. P Smith wrote: “I see the comments since my first are rife with anti-social and sociopathic types, those who “think” it’s fun to beat up on people who can’t put up a fair fight.

    I don’t think that is a fair characterization. We don’t like to see success punished. In this case, it sounds like a scheduling problem. These two teams never should have played against each other.

  42. @davidm2575 “These two teams never should have played against each other.”

    Some school systems set up leagues with divisions. The divisions group schools loosely according to the size of the student body. The idea is that schools with similar number of students are likely to have similar numbers of good and average players.

    Coaches from smaller schools can and do schedule games with larger schools. But most games during the season are played in the division against opponents with teams of roughly similar ability.

    The system usually works reasonably well giving everyone the chance to compete and offering the opportunity to schedule a real challenge once or twice a season.

    BTW, I really think the A11 formation is a different issue. I played decades ago. I am confident that few if any thought a particular formation or play made much difference. Over the length of a game it always comes down to the skill, determination, execution and – yes – luck of the players.

    And finally, I believe we are in the last few years, or perhaps the last decades of football as it is played today. Concerns regarding concussions are justified, and I think there are limits to what any helmet or protective gear can accomplish.

    In a sense that is too bad. Football is one of the few sports in which a player with average or little athletic ability can make a contribution on determination and perseverance alone. At any level, isn’t that what it is about?

  43. Follow-up: The Aledo coach was cleared of any wrongdoing and was praised by the losing coach who acknowledged both the Aledo players and coach did nothing wrong. In the bullying complaint the unidentified parent who made the complaint was upset because her son was crying after the game. God save us all!

  44. I think they should have given the other team half of the points Aledo scored.

    I think it selfish for this Aledo team to have scored all of those points and not been willing to give some away. What are we teaching children in this country?

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  46. Just a quick update — Aledo won the Texas 4A Division II state championship yesterday with a final score of 38-10. During that game the team became the first ever in high school football history to score 1000 points in a single season. It is kind of a cool record to have in the books, but at the same time is also a little embarrassing. The 91-0 score was definitely the worst, but the district we were placed in really isn’t the right one for this team. It wasn’t difficult at all for Aledo to rack up 1000 points this season, and they could have racked up many more had Coach Buchanan allowed it.

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