Character Building or an Attempt to Humiliate, What Do You Think?

It is no secret that the Rim High girls basketball team is struggling this season.  After all, not every team can be number one; just look at the record of the National Football Team’s Cincinnati Bengals this last season: two wins and 14 losses.  Or if you look at college football’s University of Connecticut: 0 and 8.  It is hard to keep your head up and play when you know that the season is not going well.  On the other hand, for the Lady Scots Basketball team, the cup is, well maybe not half full but, it is not empty either.  There are schools in the Southern Section that have lower rankings and they come out to every game to play some basketball.  

We have all heard the adage (probably from our parents), “Just because you can do it, does not mean you should.”  The girl’s basketball game against Arroyo Valley last week was a case in point: the final score was Rim of the World, 23, and Arroyo Valley, 91.  Unbelievably, in the last final seconds of the game, Arroyo Valley was still doing a full-court press as the Lady Scots were taking the ball down the court. I think we can all understand that in a tight game these tactics are fair and reasonable.

We all can understand that in children and young adult sports, one goal is to build character, integrity, and honesty. Looking back at that game, our question is, what was Arroyo Valley trying to prove with continuing to do a full-court press when they had a 68-point lead? Were they afraid that the score would have been Rim, 25 Arroyo Valley, 91?  What kind of message is the Arroyo Valley team sending to its opponents on the court?  Did any of the players think that this was possibly inappropriate?  

This is not the first season or first team that Arroyo Valley has trounced with this type of scoring in a high school basketball team. Last year during one game, they won with a 106-point lead in a game.  This year they beat Whitney High by 50 points, La Quinta by 52 points, Rancho Buena by 58 points, Fontana by 83 points, Kaiser by 78 points, Rialto by 76 points.  Yes, they have lost a few games: Jurupa Hills by 15 points, Cartwell-Sacred Heart by 6, and Orange Lutheran by 2. The only League game that they have lost is against Eisenhower where they lost by 9.  

Again, what message is the Arroyo Valley team sending: offering mortification or modeling character building? The Lady Scots played like true champions; they were not vindictive and played with character.  Every team deserves more respect than being embarrassed with a 68-point or more blowout.  

I wanted to get some input and reactions from the girls on the team regarding the game and its outcome. After receiving permission, I sat with several of the girls after practice where they agreed to discuss these issues. I first asked them as a group what their thoughts were about the season in general.  

Liberty Mills said she was “…a little bit nervous because we have a new dynamic this year, as we do not have as many taller girls or bigger girls [on the team], but [I] was also excited because we are all super close…[we’re] more excited about the funness (sic) of the season than the winning.”  My impression: the bond the ladies have formed is due to their being teammates; they watch each other’s back, support each other and have team building as the core of the program.  

I then asked, “Knowing that this season was not going to bring a CIF championship, how did you prepare yourselves to keep your heads in the games?”  

Ashlee Hosking replied,   “Honestly at the beginning of the game we say, ‘oh well we are probably going to lose’” She continued, “[But] when we get on the court, we are playing basketball and when the game is over, all the angst is over… it really doesn’t matter, we are playing basketball whether we win or lose.”  

Marina Almaraz added, “I agree, it is not about winning or losing, it’s about playing the game with everyone.”  

I asked what was going through their heads when, with only a minute remaining in play, the team was losing by over 50 points, and their opponents continued with a full-court press.  

Katelyn Reyes retorted,  “I think it is ridiculous! It is their decision on how they play the game so they are allowed to technically do that. [We] will get through it, we don’t want to do it. but we do it as a team because it is what we do!” 

At that point I asked them if they thought it was responsible for that team to continue a full-court press, leading by over 50 points with one minute left in the game? 

Liberty Mills responded with, “It lacks… character in the coaching, why would you want to do what is consistently working against a team when the score is close, but why would you want to destroy a team why wouldn’t you want to try something new?  

Katelyn Reyes responded,  “I personally don’t mind that they keep pressing us because it is just going to hurt them because they will not know how to play a different game.... they won’t know how to play against harder teams because all they know is how to beat up lesser teams.”  

So the question is, why is it necessary to play with a full-court press when the game was won?  

“They have too much pride they would rather blow teams out by 100 points than win by 20 points, it’s like a pride thing they have. After talking with some of the players they don’t care how they win as long as they can win by 40 points and if they don’t win by 40 then they get down on themselves,” said Liberty.

Marina Almarez added,  “They play only the starting 5 and the rest of the team never sees time on the court and they do not have the depth.  They go to CIF every year but if another team breaks through their press it is a lack on their part.”  

I next asked, What do you think their team’s outlook is regarding winning by a blowout?  

Ashlee Hosking responded,  “The other team was always positive, when you go down they are giving you a hand to get back up, they are respectful but it is totally on the coach, he is the one who is telling them to do this and as a player, you don’t have anything to say.” 

Is it possible that Rim belongs in a different league where the competition is a bit more balanced? Should Arroyo Valley be in a more competitive league because they are not getting the quality competition that they expect?  Regardless, is this the integrity, the sportsmanship that we want to teach our students?  

For the Lady Scots Basketball team their sportsmanship shows character building, it is the stuff that the ladies and all of us should be proud of. Come out and support the Lady Scots basketball team as their final home game is on Feb. 4 against Rialto. In respect to our seniors, they will be recognized, as they will be playing in their final home game.