Feb 14, 2010

Don't Get It: An Olympic Mercy Rule

Mercy rule? Running up the score? In hockey? In the freakin' Olympics?

First, I offer a brief reflection on sports in a U.S.A. context, because I wouldn't dare to speak for another country's outlook.
  • In the U.S., many parents or guardians get kids involved in sports for socialization just as much a physical outlet for all their hyperactive "kiddie-ness."
  • We want children to learn about good sportsmanship to be prepared for life.
  • Unfortunately, in many areas and sports, it's become a give-a-trophy-to-every-kid-who-plays P.C. nightmare, too. Because some want the kids to be spared the winners-losers conflict.
And that final bulleted point leads me to feel that, under those circumstances, we completely defeat the first two of them for the kids we're trying to raise. Sometimes good sportsmanship is learning how to lose and be good at that as well, because as an adult, you are not - repeat, not - going to "win" at everything you do. Work relationships and politics. Friendships. Family relationships.

Oh, and here's one of those trite clichés all of the athletes out there will know and understand: when I played competitively, a loss like this didn't feel good but I went back to practices determined to not let it happen again. Ditto for when I coached.

So, back off of the Canadian women's hockey team for handing Slovakia an 18-0 beat-down in the Olympics.
  1. Slovakia 82, Bulgaria 0 in 2008, anyone? Et tú, Bruté?
  2. Yes, Canada and the U.S.A. have a stronger tradition and training system for women's hockey at this point. Other teams continue to advance theirs and this will be an evolving process.
  3. Both Canada and the U.S.A. are beatable, especially if you're Swedish.
Would it have been any better if Canada had limited its scoring? No, because then they would have just skated around, passing the puck, and not playing hockey.

The Olympic Games are about putting for your best effort against competitors from other countries. They're even about promoting goodwill, unity, and peace through sport. But the mere whispering of the phrase "Mercy Rule" is just asinine and contrary to the movement.

It's sport: there are winners and losers. The ladies who form Slovakia's women's team are big girls; they can take it.


K-Mart said...

The only thing I would suggest in regards to a mercy rule is to possibly make it a no-stop clock after some team goes up by 7 or something. I mean I agree that it's really boring to watch endless cycling and no shots, but it's also incredibly boring to see one team score on every shot.

K-Mart said...

Also I was at one of my sister's girl's league games last month, and they were up 7-0 going into the third, and even though they scored three or so more goals that period, the scorekeeper stopped putting them up on the board. That annoys the crap out of me. I was in my fair share of lopsided losses when I played, but they never stopped putting up the goals on the board. And it didn't hurt my psyche to see it, it made me pissed off that we were playing like crap. I just don't understand where the coddling line will ever be drawn if they stop drawing it in sports...