Is This Bullying or Helicoptering?

aledoRob Biesenbach sent me a message via Twitter today asking me “What do you think of running up the score? Coach accused of bullying after 91-0 rout”, along with this link to SI WIRE.

Rob probably sent me this note because of the fact that I love football! (See Gini Dietrich‘s #FF post – and comments – on Spin Sucks.)

I took a quick glance at SI’s snapshot and responded, “I might have to write a post on this! Short answer is that there should be good sportsmanship”.

I then went on to read the article that SI linked to. What I read filled me with relief. The Aledo team is just that good.

Background: After the game, a parent on the opposing team filed a bullying report against Aledo’s coach.

The losing team and coach didn’t think they were bullied. The Aledo coach benched his offensive starters after 21 snaps and a running clock was implemented in the third quarter. In short, he did everything possible to not let the game turn into a rout.

Aledo’s coach is taking this accusation seriously. The report wanted his players to not play so hard.  He made this statement regarding the margins of victory, “I don’t like it. I sit there the whole third and fourth quarter and try to think how I can keep us from scoring.”

But IMHO, how do you tell players not to play? Especially the ones who are not starters? What is his other option? Have the defense imitate the infamous “Florida Flop” of 1971? Trust me, that would be far worse.

Inserting the story of the Florida Flop here so that you don’t have to search for it on the Wikipedia page:

One of the more colorful moments of the Dickey era was a play known as the “Gator Flop.” In the final game of the 1971 regular season, the Gators led the rival Miami Hurricanes 45–8 with less than two minutes on the clock.[27] Victory was assured, but Florida’s senior quarterback, John Reaves, needed fourteen yards to break Jim Plunkett‘s NCAA record for career passing yardage and Miami had the ball.[27] Several of Florida’s defensive players convinced Dickey that the only way for Reaves to set the mark would be for Miami to score quickly.[28] Dickey refused twice before he acquiesced.[29] So, with the Hurricanes near the Florida endzone, the entire Gator defense except one player fell to the ground, allowing Miami to easily score a touchdown.[30] Florida’s offense then got the ball back and Reaves completed a fifteen-yard pass to Carlos Alvarez to break the record.[28] After the final whistle, jubilant Florida players jumped into a large tank behind the Orange Bowl endzone usually used by the Miami Dolphins‘ mascot, “Flipper“, and an angry Miami coach Fran Curci refused to shake hands with Dickey.

Back to the post.

Are there teams/coaches who might run up the score on purpose? I’m sure there are at all levels. I’ve seen college and NFL coaches be accused of doing so on purpose. However in this instance, my answer to Rob’s question to me is, no, I don’t think this is bullying. I do, however, think it has symptoms of “helicopter parenting”.

Learning to be a good sport should be rigorously taught at all levels of every sport.

What are your thoughts? Both on this particular instance and on running up a game’s score in general.


From AP: “A district investigation has found “no grounds” to support a bullying complaint filed by a parent of the losing team.

Aledo High School coach Tim Buchanan said Wednesday administrators told him they found no evidence of bullying before or during Friday’s lopsided victory over Fort Worth Western Hills.

State law required the district to investigate the complaint.”

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Susan Cellura is a marketing communications professional with over 20 years of experience. She is a dynamic communications professional and enthusiastic team-builder, with a progressive history of success in designing and implementing communications programs for global organizations. A strategic thinker with the ability to understand the needs of multiple audiences and deliver solutions, Susan is a results-oriented problem-solver with exceptional interpersonal and negotiation abilities. Having worked in a variety of global industries, she has grown business communications in her current position via a strong mixture of strategic resources, including social media.

2 thoughts on “Is This Bullying or Helicoptering?”

  1. Thanks for taking requests, Susan! This was all over the network news this morning and, not surprisingly, the coverage was lacking in nuance and detail. So I learned a lot more about it here (and in the SI story). That is one crazy parent! Didn’t know about the Florida Flop, either — great story!

  2. LOL, Rob. It was my pleasure! Thanks for giving me the idea. 🙂 I’ve seen the score run up at games before, and sometimes, it really is out of the team’s hands. I respect both coaches in this situation. And yes, the UF/Miami rivalry has some great stories. 🙂

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