Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Pet Peeve

of mine is manufactured records, especially on the high school and collegiate level. If a person gets a record within the course of playing actual competition in the way games are supposed to be played, more power to them. But we seem to be reaching epidemic levels of people colluding to get records or twisting the ethics of competition in order to get them.

People do funny things when it comes to records. When Nykesha Sales got injured before the last game of the season one point shy of the UConn basketball career record, the head coaches of UConn and Villanova allowed her to come out in her cast, go under the basket, have the tip-off go to her, let her score a layup to get the record, let Villanova score a layup in return and essentially start the game 2-2.

What I find strange is why Sales would want such a record. I've also never understood why a great competitor like Brett Favre would lie down for Michael Strahan's sack record. Or why Strahan would let him.

Why did Lisa Leslie let her team give her 101 points in the first half against poor South Torrance when she was in high school? Leslie says it was a tradition that the captain got to score as much as possible in the last home game each year. But tradition is one thing and humiliation is another. Her opponents, one of the worst teams in the state with only 6 players total, played the game with only 4 players after two fouled out in the first couple of minutes. Leslie's team played 4-on-4 defense, and allowed Leslie to camp under the other basket where they just threw the ball down the court for continual lay-ups. The South Torrance coach was so outraged that he didn't allow his team to come out for the second half.

People even do crazy things for small individual numbers. Remember Ricky Davis trying to get
a triple double by throwing the ball off his own backboard and catching it for his 10th rebound of the game--only to find out that such an action does not count as an official rebound? Remember Allen Iverson in his consecutive 40+ point games being given shot after shot by his teammates and some opponents?

One of my biggest problems with this is the advantage in going second. You think if the person whose record was broken knew that her record would be broken in this manner, he/she (and her coaches at the time) wouldn't have made sure that she got a few extra buckets, yards, and so forth? Often I think records aren't made to be broken...they are made to be destroyed. Because only then can you be sure when you look back that the person who came along second wasn't pushed by the record itself to squeeze out an extra point or yard or at bat at potential cost to his team and the rules of competition.

I bring this up because last Friday night, a high school running back named H. B. Banjoman entered the last game of the season needing 334 yards to set the Virginia high school record. Yes, that's right...334 yards. Amazingly, after running the kid all night, he did accumulate 300 yards and his team, Warren County HS, was up 28-7 with about a minute to play and the other team had the ball at its own 27. At this point, Warren County's coach ordered his defense to lay down and give up a 73 yard touchdown. They did. Warren County got the ball back. And in what was likely a hurry-up offense, managed to get young Banjoman the record--he broke it, in fact, as time expired.

Am I the only one who is completely disgusted by this turn of events? The other team refused to shake hands after the game and the police were brought out on the field to quell what was obvious to everyone would happen after such unsportsmanlike play. In his defense, Warren County coach Heath Gilbert admitted that it was a "bush league thing to do," but said he had no regrets and that his defense was on-board with the idea so it wasn't forced too hard on them. No, Mr. Gilbert, of course it wasn't forced on them and they wanted to do it. They're teenagers. If only you would have been the adult, these kids might have learned something valuable Friday night. Instead they learned that individual records are worth torturing the rules of sport.

Poor Damone Boone, the former recordholder. Since I haven't looked it up, it only makes me wonder whether he attained the record in a similar fashion a decade ago. If not, it is a real slap in the face, and he can only hope that someone will go back and find a glitch in the recordkeeping of Banjoman's yardage this year. Or maybe next year, some coach will decide not to play defense all year just to see if his star running back can double the record.


At 11:01 AM, Blogger El Gran Color Naranja said...

I've always looked upon HS records as Guiness Book of World Record type things. The bar just gets set higher by anyone with the time and inclination to try to set the bar higher.

Someone makes a 30 ft pizza, well we'll make a 31ft pizza. Someone rushes for 300 yards, we'll get our guy to rush for 310 yards.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Mean Dean said...

I am with you on this. The ironic thing is that "stathead" types are often accused of having blind allegiance to numbers... yet most "stathead" types would NOT do a thing like this, if it were up to them. The stathead, because he/she has THOUGHT about statistics and what they represent, understands that the various statistics are imperfect reflections of a player's underlying value, and the goal is to maximize the actual value, not to maximize any individual statistic. So most statheads would not bench pitchers with 19 losses or hitters on the verge of strikeout records; allow the usage of their closer to be governed by the definition of the "save" statistic; allow a player-manager to play himself over better players in order to set a record (Pete Rose); and that type of thing.

At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Meda said...

As stated, it's been done before in high school, in different sports, all the way up to the NFL, so what happened was nothing new. The game was lost already. HB was not feeling his best during the 1st half of the game, and if he had been, what happened late in the game would not have been necessary. You failed to mention that he ran a 95 yard touchdown from the kickoff, which was called back because of a holding penalty against Warren County. I believe the behaviour of those kids, AND coaches was not due to the fact that Warren County allowed Central to score in order to get the ball back and get H.B. his yards. I was THERE and lived through the experience. The Central staff is not telling the whole story.

At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i played in that game for warren county, when coach gilbert gathered his team on the sideline and made absolutely sure that it was ok with us before he made the decision the let the other team score, and we wanted this record just as bad as HB did because it was a team effort, although it may say HB Banjoman in the record books, it will also say Warren County beside it, and we will never forget our set goals in his accomplisements toward this record!!

At 11:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

im actual disgusted by what you said about my brother, HB Banjoman. He worked hard all year to achieve just a winning season but a record was in grasp so they took a shot. And obviously if you were 'so called' at the game, Central fought back against that 73 yard run by trying to jump offsides to shorten up the yardage needed for the record. So shut the fuck up and stop hating because i would like to see you run 300+ multiple times in one season.

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