The Mercy Rule

...... another example of the nanny state?

The story of the 100-0 basketball game in the US where the winning coach got fired for not instructing his team to ease of was on Skysports News this morning.

As someone in their early forties this kind of rule or idea was unheard of when I was a child. Does it have a negative impact on a child's life if they get thrashed at sport? Surely this simply encourages them to be more sensitive?

And yes it exists in this country as well in some of the kids footy leagues


  • I remember when my Sprog was at school, Coventry LEA tried to stop competitive sports between schools, cos they said it damaged the kids if they lost etc etc

    Sprog 1 was at a Catholic School, and as they weren't dependant on the LEA like other schools, The Catholic schools continued to play each other at football, netball etc.

    As Sprogs headmaster used to say, "It's all right kids in school growing up not failing, or losing, But they will get one hell of a shock when they get into the outside world"

    Have to say getting thrashed 10 - 0 by Euston Rd was all part of my growing up

  • I think it is daft coz life is full of victories and losses-we need to develop ways of coping with BOTH.  Danger as I see it is when  losses and losing are perceived as something wrong with the person as an individual. We have to chamge this attitude rather than introduce daft rules. 
  • I don't think there's any suggestion that they want to stop competitive sport, just to stop a game when a team has an unassailable lead over their opponents.  I'm not entirely sure what that's supposed to achieve as having a game stopped would be as humiliating as getting a huge beating.
  • My younger children's primary school scrapped the parents race from sports day  in case it upset the parents who didn't win. How ridiclous! And all the kids events are geared towards "participtation" with no publication of 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc after. Where is the reward and therefore motivation for the kids to push themselves and try to improve?

    I think sports gives oppertunities to ground children in many aspects of adult life ahead and learning to turn a loss in to a positive is one of the most important and beneficial and is slowly being eroded away.

  • SlugstaSlugsta ✭✭✭

    The only possible benfit I can see would be to prevent injury - and I'm not totally convinced by that argument either!

    Edited to make clear that this was in response to the OP, not the previous post!

  • Good point Mister W, hadn't thought of that angle and yes, really seems no difference between "soundly beaten" and "not good enough to complete game" with the latter probably worse.

  • There's no 'mercy rule' when me and my mate play badminton. 

    Lost 4-1 last night.  Hasn't affected me.  I'll just make sure I'll thrash him next time.

    <throws racket across court and stomps off>image  image

  • SlugstaSlugsta ✭✭✭
    Another thought - hwo are the losing team going to get match practice if their games are stopped?
  • In our local junior football leagues if a team's getting hammered then the winning manager will usually shuffle the team and perhaps bring off the strikers.  And there's a rule that forbids recording more than 10 goals against, so it's never more than ten nil, even if 20 goals go in.

     But instruct the kids to go easy? Never! like has been said above, it's just insulting to the losing side, who are usually just as competitive and equally up for a match, just less skilled.  



  • Wow, there must be loads of adults who grew up before the 90's who are so screwed up because they lost a running race on sports day image

    I lost a netball match once, I have spent years in therapy trying to come to terms with it.  It has really hampered my career prospects.  image

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    I used to be in the hockey team for my school.

    We never won a match, got thrashed 11-0 in one game, and I really don't think it made a jot of difference to me beyond the immediate disappointment.

    I used to hate running though!

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    Every time I run in a half marathon some bastard finishes it some 30 to 45 minutes quicker than I do.

    I am psychologically scarred forever.

  • So let me get this straight...a game ends 100-0 and it's the winning coach that gets fired?image

    The coach of the losing team is named Cryer, which seems like a gift for headline writers. She might think about having some words with her own players before she starts sounding off at the other team.

  • I've been on the recieving end of a 66-0 drubbing at rugby - we all admitted we weren't good enough on the day.

    on the other hand we took 3 teams at Uni to play another Uni. I was in the 1st XV and we won 36-0, 2nd XV won 103-0, 3rd XV won 116-3 - they were shite!!!
  • At my daughter's gymnastic club before a competition the instuctor told the assembled kids....remember it's the taking part that counts.  We whispered to our daughter...."no it's not!  It's the winning that counts!  Go out and kick some ass!".....she did!  She became Northern Ireland champ 2 times!image

    This is as bad as school teachers not being allowed to put an X beside wrong answers in tests and homeworks...only being allowed to mark (tick) for the correct answers....and not being allowed to use red pens!!  Crazy!

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    On the other hand, when I was a kid we were told that it was the taking part that counted - but we were still encouraged to try our best.  They're not mutually exclusive.

    After all, I take part in many races with no hope of winning - should I give up?

  • When I took up running in races my youngest wanted to know what the point was in me entering a race, as I clearly had no chance of winning.  We talked a lot about the satisfaction of reaching a self-defined goal such as a PB, regardless of where I finish, and it seems to have had a positive effect on him.  He's a very competitive footballer, and can now see that, though obviously he always wants to win, if he has played his best then there's no shame in being beaten.

    His team's coach will take the best players off if they've got a big lead to give the other side a chance, but I don't think they've got a maximum goal limit on them.

  • This is absolutely mad. in the case of the 100-0 the team that lost probably had no business in being in the same competition/leage as the other team due to the gaping gulf in abilities. But that doesn't mean the coach should get fired. There is way too much nannying going on with children, and we wonder why when things go wrong for children/young adults they can't handle it? Children need to learn, at a young age, that they will not always win. It won't be pleasant, but in the long run it is better for society that they are aware sometimes things don't go your way. It may help stop them acting out when it happens next time....

    My childhood (U12's) football team got beaten 23-1 once, by a team from 2 leagues above us in a cup. No one got sacked, no one cried and last i heard none of the team were in therapy (well, not because of that anyway).

    Loosing is a part of life, just as winning is. Children should experience both.

     *sorry, just realised how much of a rant that is*image

  • MadameOMadameO ✭✭✭

    Competitiveness is an instinctive trait of all animals, us included. You can't eradicate it no matter how 'self-aware' we become as a species - and in all honesty it'd be a travesty if you could.

    This is an example of it happening at the earliest stages, but look at how things are at a much higher level (i.e. higher education) - there are already way too many mediocre graduates, most of whom are in ludicrous amounts of debt, all because 'everyone' should be able to go to university, and not just the academically inclined. I'm not being elitist here, but surely being aware of one's limits and working within them is better than going through life making excuses for your failings, and expecting others to pander to them?

    I'm not saying it's all about winning, or that people shouldn't be proud of themselves for taking part - just that people seem to be so wrapped up in 'feelings' these days that they're ignoring instincts that are there for a reason.

    And yes, I am a Darwinian to the core image

  • Wilkie wrote (see)

    On the other hand, when I was a kid we were told that it was the taking part that counted - but we were still encouraged to try our best.  They're not mutually exclusive.

    After all, I take part in many races with no hope of winning - should I give up?

    It's hubby and I were both (as children) champions in our various sports (me: gymnastics, judo and running - believe it or not! and he: football, karate and boxing) and our children have always been very sporty and in the top level in competition (here in NI) so therefore we went down the "you can do it and win" line.  if they didn't win (to be honest that didn't happen too often and if it didn't they still were in the top three) we probably would have pushed the all inclusive thing.

    Maybe it's a genetic thing.  (hmmmm nature/nurture discuss!!)

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