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Inglewood High School Football Team Wins 106-0 in Blowout

A Personal Perspective: Is this an example of deeper societal problems?

Key points

  • Despite already leading 104-0, Inglewood High still went for a 2-point conversion rather than a one-point conversion.
  • This may have been indicative of the short-term "dominate or be dominated" thinking frequently pervading different aspects of society.
  • There are reasons to not continue pouring it on after you’ve attained a big lead and are comfortably ahead in life.
  • The bigger picture is seeking win-win situations, where you can still get what you want while helping others.
Image by andzelikatokarska from Pixabay
The one-sided victory has been called a "classless move" and prompted calls for an investigation.
Source: Image by andzelikatokarska from Pixabay

This past Friday, Inglewood High defeated Inglewood Morningside (California) in a high school football game by a score of 106-0. Yes, you read that correctly, 106 to 0.

After leading Morningside High 59-0 at the end of the first quarter. Inglewood High kept scoring throughout the rest of the game. They even attempted a two-point conversion instead of a one-point one when they were ahead 104-0. After all, a 106-0 lead is tougher to overcome than a 105-0 lead, right?

As Josh Peter and Chris Bumbaca reported for the USA Today, the coach of the Morningside football team, Brian Collins, called the blowout “a classless move" and the Inglewood Unified School District, which oversees both high schools, was "saddened beyond words by the events" and promised a full investigation.

Here's one thing that a full investigation should reveal: This was a high school football game and not a freaking professional football game. The Inglewood team was playing against a bunch of fellow teenagers in a high school football game and not Thanos for control of the Infinity Stones and the Universe. In what kind of universe would an eight-touchdown lead not be safe? It’s not as if Morningside High said, “Now that we’ve spotted you a 59-0 lead we have you right where we want you.” If Morningside High had started to threaten the lead by, you know, actually scoring something, then maybe Mil'Von James, the coach of Inglewood High, would have been justified in keeping his team scoring.

Now, you may respond, “A little competition can’t hurt,” or “That which does not kill you makes you stronger,” or "Mercy is for the weak." Perhaps you may argue that such domination will give the dominated added motivation or something to strive for, such as not getting dominated. Maybe a 59-0 loss instead of a 106-0 one would have given Morningside High a little false confidence, right?

Sure, high school football games don't necessarily need to turn into “I’m OK, you’re OK, let's hug each other” fests. People don't need participation trophies each time they tie their shoes or manage to stay upright for 10 minutes.

However, this is not about eliminating competition or making football soft. The situation in this game was very different. A 106-0 beat down is like someone smacking your face with a frying pan and then saying, “This frying pan just isn’t large enough” and then returning with an oar. This route is indicative of the short-term dominate or be dominated binary thinking that seems to frequently pervade different aspects of our society.

Competition at Its Worst

There are reasons to not pour it on after you’ve attained a big lead in such a game. Or in business or some other area of your life for that matter. First of all, you may encounter members of the opposing team in the future. They may someday say, “Hey aren’t you the guy who kept trying to throw touchdowns while we were just trying to not poo in our pants? By the way, which job at our firm are you applying for again?” Bad behavior could kind of come around to bite you.

Secondly, this was a high school football game and not a life-and-death situation. If someone ever invites you to play a life-and-death football game, don’t do it. Instead, tell them that you are busy (unless you happen to have Tom Brady as your quarterback and a bunch of partially deflated footballs available). While winning games may be nice, the larger goal is to also have fun, get exercise, make friends, and learn some skills and lessons for the rest of your life. The vast majority of high school football players will never ever play professional football. For any potentially competitive situation in life, ask yourself, "How much does it really matter?"

Third, there are win-win situations. A 59-0 win would already be enough to prove your point: Your team is better at football than the other team. You can still win the game comfortably while making it a more pleasant experience for the other team. If you want to demonstrate your power, show it by helping others.

Finally, humiliating an opponent hurts everyone. The success of high school football, in general, depends on a balance between healthy competition and still having enough people wanting to play the game. For example, cheese rollers don't have that many opportunities because cheese rolling hasn’t really taken off as a sport. Not enough people are doing it. (Besides, not everyone has access to that much cheese, and many people would rather eat cheese than roll it. But that's beside the point.) Football, by contrast, is a much more successful enterprise since so many people are still interested in playing the sport. However, if unhealthy competition ends up chasing enough people away from high school football, the whole sport would suffer and so would anyone who remains.

Unfortunately, our society seems to be filled with people consumed by individual competition without realizing the benefits of cooperation. They don’t seem to understand win-win situations and instead view everything as a pie with a fixed size. There are the billionaires who keep wanting to double, triple, and quadruple their wealth, even though such additional money could dramatically help millions of other people. There are the academics who keep trying to rack up individual awards without sharing at least some of the recognition with the people doing the real work in their labs. There are the politicians who keep saying, “Look at me, look at me,” while their constituents may be saying, "What about us, what about us?" There are monopolies that continue to crave more and more market share. There are businesses that keep harming the environment and the health of the population for profits rather than working together to find solutions to major public health threats such as climate change and the obesity epidemic.

Again, this is not to say "share everything" or "don’t reward excellence." No one should tell Inglewood High, “OK, it’s time to lose a few games now,” or change the rules (“instead of playing football, we'll do needlepoint to give other teams an opportunity to win”). It’s more about recognizing when enough is enough. There should be more attempts to encourage win-win situations. People should be encouraged to say, “OK, I’ve already got what I needed. Now how do we succeed together?” After all, 106-0 is not a win-win situation. It is a win-get pummeled situation.