Nation & World News

Did Bullying Claim After 91-0 Game Do More Harm Than Good?

By Mark Memmott on October 24th, 2013

Sports talk shows and news outlets have been all over the story of a Texas parent who filed a complaint about bullying after his son’s high school football team lost a game last week by the score of 91-0.

If you haven’t heard about what happened during that game, here’s how Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram sums up the story:

“Aledo [High School] beat Fort Worth Western Hills 91-0 at home, pushing its season scoring pace to 69.3 points a game and running its undefeated record to 7-0. In four District 7-4A games against Fort Worth schools, the Bearcats have outscored their opponents by an average of 77 points per game.”

CBS Local in Dallas/Fort Worth says Aledo kept scoring even though its coach, after seeing his team score 56 points by halftime, “began actively trying to keep the score down, subbing in backup players, letting the clock run continuously, and instructing players to make fair catch calls.”

Western Hills coach John Naylor had no problem with the way Aledo played. “We just ran into a buzzsaw,” he told the Star-Telegram. “[Aledo] just plays hard. And they’re good sports, and they don’t talk at all. They get after it, and that’s the way football is supposed to be played in Texas.”

But an unidentified parent did have an issue with what happened, and filed a complaint with the Aledo school that the CBS Local station says alleges “we all witnessed bullying firsthand, it is not a pretty sight.”

Wednesday, Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said his district has investigated and found “no grounds” for the bullying charge.

The game and the bullying allegation, as we said, have caused much discussion. Even widely quoted legal scholar Jonathan Turley has weighed in, writing that “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.”

One line of thought from many critics of the parent’s complaint is that bullying can be deadly — leading in some cases to young victims taking their lives. An accusation about a lopsided football game could make it look like bullying isn’t a serious problem, they say. It also could be disrespectful to bullying’s victims.

We wonder what everyone thinks.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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