Running up the score is never acceptable.

In youth leagues and high school especially, the playing fields are not always level. Coaches on the good side of the equation have to have enough class to call off the dogs and leave their opponents some dignity.

Of course, there are a lot of coaches who suffer from this lack of basic sportsmanship.

One football league in Connecticut has an answer. It’s the wrong answer, but they have an answer.

They voted to suspend a coach for one game if his team wins by more than 50 points.

True, a 50-point win in football is a big win. It is probably possible to keep from beating a team by 50 points. But there will be times under this rule where teams are told to intentionally stay out of the end zone or turn the ball over on purpose. If I were on the trailing team, I would be far more ashamed to get beat 49-0 by a team who was trying not to score than getting beat 70-0 by a team trying their hardest.

Sometimes, the other team is that much better. It is a fact of life that you have to live with.

When I helped coach a youth league baseball team I remember two blowouts very clearly. We weren’t blown out but a handful of times in nine years of competition.

But when our players were 11 years old we ran up against a 12 year old team that featured Josh Fields, Jared King, Noah Willard, and a lot of other very good players. They beat us by about 20 runs. But they didn’t run up the score. They quit stealing bases when the game was in hand. They cleared the bench.

They just kept scoring. We tried, but we couldn’t stop them.

We weren’t mad at them. That whipping gave our kids a little more fire in practice. They knew it was going to take more than just lacing up the cleats to compete with teams like that.

It actually helped our team.

Later in the year, we played them again and only lost 5-4. We earned some respect from a team that was much better than we were.

Eight years ago this weekend, we took another pounding.

We were in a great Memorial Day Tournament in Del City.

We beat teams from Pampa, Texas, and an elite team from the Putnam City Optimist organization which was supposed to be one of the five best in the state.

We made it to the finals.

That was a Memorial Day to forget. The Dallas-Fort Worth White Sox had a kid pitching for them that was about 6’4” and 220 pounds. This 14-year-old could have played linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately for us, he could also probably have pitched for the Rangers. He allowed one base runner the entire game - Ryland Russell reached first after striking out on a curve ball in the dirt that got past the catcher.

We got second in the tournament. But we weren’t celebrating.

That team stole bases the whole game - even stealing home with a 13-0 lead in the fourth inning. Their belief was that, if we reached the finals, we ought to be good enough to defend ourselves. They mocked our players, our fans and our coaches. They took some sort of sick pleasure from it.

That was a blowout that left a bad taste in our mouths.

If a coach is doing that, they should be suspended. But you can’t arbitrarily pick a number and tell coaches to stay below it.

You could, however, enforce a code of decency where a committee of other coaches reviews game films and decides if the coach offended a “no running it up” policy.

If coaches call unnecessary time-outs or keep passing late in a game, they should be penalized. But if a team’s reserves score defensive touchdowns or return kicks for touchdowns, that’s just part of the game.

The league meant well passing the rule, but not all blow outs are caused by running up the score.

It is a good idea to address the problem. But you can’t just pick a number.

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