Twitter was abuzz Tuesday night when the score came in from a girls basketball game between Bloomington (Ind.) South High School and Indianapolis Arlington High School. The final score was 107-2 in favor of Bloomington South. At first glance, this looks like another case of one team piling on its seemingly overmatched opponent. These types of scores happen all over the country and are not unique to Indiana by any means. However, it is important to note that Indiana does not have any form of a mercy rule relative to basketball.
Mercy rules are implemented in various youth and high school sports when one team gains a decided scoring advantage. Leagues may run a continuous clock in sports such as basketball and football. In Missouri, if a high school basketball team is up 30 or more points at the end of three quarters, the clock runs nonstop except in the case of a charged timeout, injury or some other emergency. Otherwise, out-of-bounds plays, scoring and other usual clock stoppages do not apply. This is different from baseball or soccer where a certain run or goal differential will result in the game being called.
Chris Kaufman, associate commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, hopes the Arlington-Bloomington South game will motivate his state to institute a mercy rule. “We don’t have a mercy rule in Indiana. We’ve tried different proposals in the past that didn’t get very far. Sportsmanship is a very high priority for us and maybe this game will help us put a rule in place to prevent this type of thing from happening.” Conversely, Kaufman was quick to point out that he did not think there was any malice on the part of Bloomington South.
It turns out that Bloomington South and Arlington are old rivals and both schools were state championship contenders in past years. Bloomington South has maintained its stature while Arlington has fallen on hard times mostly unrelated to sports. Arlington is in the first year of a state takeover due to poor academic performance. When schools lose accreditation, they also lose enrollment as parents look for more viable alternatives for their kids.
Bloomington South and Arlington once had approximately 900 students each. According to Kaufman, Arlington’s student body hovers around 200 now. This gives them a much smaller group of kids to pull from and when matched against Bloomington South – makes them a potential casualty of a one-sided basketball game. In this case, it’s not fair to demonize Bloomington South nor the Indiana High School Athletic Association. This is an opportunity to promote change where an obvious flaw exists. A 107-2 game isn’t good for either group of kids. Let’s stand with them to make sure the next game is a better game for all. Until next time…
Be a Good Sport!