Yes, it is bad sportsmanship for a coach to run up a score in youth sports. There may be games when a team beats an opponent handily but a coach can control the margin to some degree. Our job as coaches is to teach young athletes about sportsmanship and being compassionate human beings.
IT MAKES ME ANGRY when I hear about games like the Inglewood – Morningside high school football game where Inglewood ran up the score and won 106 – 0. Devastating another team is unacceptable.
I have experience winning and losing, as both a coach and a player. I can tell you that it’s one thing to lose and it’s another to have a team rub a loss in your face. If you are coaching a talented team, look for ways to take control of the final outcome. Give players on both teams the opportunity to grow and leave the court, or playing field, with dignity.
Control The Game
Each sport has different ways for coaches to control the outcome of the game. It’s not always perfect but a coach should make the effort. Think about the effect of the game on your players and your young opponents. Athletes that are just learning about the sport may find the experience so disheartening that they may never what to play again, and in the end, sports are not really about winning and losing (well, not all about it anyway), they are about teaching young athletes life lessons. Learning to bounce back after a bad loss is one thing, being humiliated is quite another.
Slow things down to take time off of the clock. Work on new plays. Get more players in the game. Each sport has different ways that a coach can work to keep a score within reason. If you coach football run the ball more instead of passing, and make sure all of your players get in the game. In basketball, use the shot clock during each possession. Don’t press or trap. Play a basic zone defense and don’t overextend it. Depending on the situation you might even talk with the opposing coach and the referees and implement a running clock. There are always options to be respectful and still play hard.
Win With Class
These options and others, give all of your players more experience and get your entire team to work together, which in the end will make your team stronger. When you have a talented team, think about all student-athletes on both teams and teach your player how to win with class.