On Tuesday night in Indianapolis, the Bloomington South High School girl’s basketball team beat Arlington High 107-2. This defeat spurred criticism from Arlington’s coach and debate within the Indiana High School Athletic Association. Dr. Daniel Gould, professor of Applied Sport Psychology from Michigan State University, joined Bill Littlefield to discuss the impact blowout scores can have on young athletes.
BL: Have you worked with young athletes who’ve suffered as a result of blowouts, and if so, what did you learn from them?
DG: I don’t know of anybody in our professional meetings that have directly dealt with this. Luckily they’ve designed leagues so it doesn’t happen that much. But I do think that’s such a big margin that the kids were probably pretty embarrassed on the other team. Then, all of a sudden, it gets put up in the media and made even a bigger deal. My hunch is it’s probably embarrassing for the girls on that team because it became even bigger than the loss was itself.
BL: After Tuesday’s game, Arlington coach Ebony Jackson said that she was disappointed in Bloomington South’s decision to keep shooting. But Bloomington South coach Larry Winters said that to tell his team to stop shooting would have been more embarrassing to their opponent. Do they both have a point?
DG: I think each does. It’s tough because this doesn’t occur that often. Some youth leagues have a mercy rule, so if there gets to be a huge lead in a team that they sort of end the game. So, hopefully the coach from the team that won would do everything he or she could to kind of slow it down, but I still agree that you want your kids to play, because then it looks like they’re so helpless. And the other end, the coach needs to understand my team isn’t good and the other one’s really good.
BL: Well, some of what you said earlier made me second-guess myself for even talking about this, being part of the media that’s bringing it up, but perhaps if we get the message out that it’s important to have interests beyond a sport, maybe that will be a useful thing.
DG: I think that balance, interest…in sports, kids need to learn to win and they need to learn to lose. When you were asking me before about the research, the research does show the more you put everything you have into one sport, the more you’re at risk because you don’t have any balance in your life when things go wrong. We often tell athletes we work with, when you play it’s the most important thing you’re doing in your life at that moment in time, but it’s not your whole life.