The Nanny State of Youth Sports

Posted: October 1, 2011 by Kodi in Other

This kid is nasty! Cuttin’ through defenses like a hot knife through butter. . .

But why is he limited to scoring just 3 TDs?

Why has youth athletics been dragged down by the mercy rule?

Earlier this week I was sent a message on Facebook by one of our devoted followers on Sport’n A Mic. He had sent me a Youtube video of a young man in Arkansas who was an incredible 6th grade football player. So good that they had to institute a rule from the ‘80s to try and level the competition. It made me think about what other types of mercy rules have been put in place by other youth sports. It also made me wonder why do we have mercy rules in youth sports but we allow College and Professional athletes to embarrass the shit out of each other.

First, we should get into the story that made me think about all of this, which is centered on a young boy named Demias Jimerson. Jimerson is an 11 year old who plays in the Wilson Intermediate Football League (WIFL) in Arkansas, the same league where the legendary Madre Hill played. Madre Hill may be one of the most impressive RBs to come out of Arkansas ever. He led the SEC in 1995, setting a University record in rushing attempts, 307, and rushing yards, 1387, which would later be broken by former Razorbacks RB Darren McFadden. He had rushed for a state record 6008 yards and 68 TDs during his career at Malvern High School and during his Senior season he ran for a state record 2863 yards on the way to becoming Arkansas’ 1993 Class AAA State Champion.

Hill was one of the biggest names in youth football and was named Reebok National High School Player of the Year, as well as 3 All-State/All-District and was named an All-American by USA Today and Blue Chip Illustrated. Before he was crushing kids in High School and College he was whooping their asses on the schoolyard fields of WIFL. In order to level the playing field and keep the games “fair”, the league created a rule. What they came up with is now called the Madre Hill Rule and Jimerson is the only other youth athlete to have the rule instituted since its creation other than its namesake.

Once a player, Hill or Jimerson, scored 3 TDs and if their team had at least a 14 point lead, the officials banned that player from scoring any more TDs. WIFL has instituted the Madre Hill rule after Demias Jimerson ran for 7 TDs in one of his team’s first games. The rule was created and implemented as Principal Terri Bryant explained that “there’s nothing malicious behind the rule . . . It’s merely in place to give the other kids a chance to play the game”.  When the local Arkansas media came to interview the young 11 year old RB he was asked about his situation and Jimerson admitted “I was kind of shocked, but I’m okay with it”. He went on to explain that “I’m going to run hard and bring our team to victory, but God always comes first, before anything, and grades second”. God, grades and football that’s what Arkansas does!

If you watch the highlights of Jimerson slicing through defense like a hot knife through butter, it is understandable how frustrated opposing teams could be. That doesn’t mean that the league and its officiating crew need to “protect” these poor kids. Jimerson isn’t a pedophile passing out free candy from a raper van in the fields parking lot. He is a talented 11 year old who should be allowed to run for as many TDs as he can. It isn’t his fault that the 11 players on defense are incapable of stopping him, so why is it that the Madre Hill rule is the only thing tackling Jimerson on the field?

The nanny state of youth sports had begun long before Hill or Jimerson ever hit the field. It is the parents who care more than the youth athletes and they are the one’s arguing to “level” the playing field. This is the real world and there isn’t going to be anyone to save these kids from getting their teeth kicked in the future, especially next year when Jimerson’s play can’t be curbed by the Madre Hill rule. Football isn’t the only sport with pathetic attempts to regulate the competitive play in youth sports. There have been multiple stories from across the nation involving nearly every youth sport of kids who were punished for being too good.

The mercy rule is most used in Little League Baseball but sometimes the rules don’t protect teams as well as those who created it may have hoped. In a San Antonio, Texas suburb a Little League team beat another by 50 runs because the mercy rule wasn’t in effect until after the 5th inning. The teams Coach didn’t want to stop play before the game was “official” so he just sent out his squad to keep tacking on more runs. After that game the mercy rule was adapted to allow a team to institute it after a 15 run lead through 3 innings and still allow the game to be official.

Some may realize just how ridiculous these mercy rules are in sports, but the Ottawa Youth Soccer League took it to a whole new level. They actually instituted a mercy rule that made teams who were winning games by 5 or more goals count as losses. They would rather have the teams pass the ball back and forth without scoring anymore additional goals to save the other kids the embarrassment. How fucking pathetic is that? Hey there Natgo out and play monkey in the middle while those Canadian boys pass that there soccer ball back and forth, eh. A loss for kicking some soccer teams ass by more than 5 points, have you seen how uncoordinated young kids are on the field. If I was in that league I would just start kicking the ball into my own net until we were losing by 6 goals, then I would go celebrate with some Orange slices, juice boxes and a slice of Maple Sugar Pie. Whatchu think aboot that d’ere situation Canada?

The best story of the mercy rule in my mind is one that took place in Dallas during the 2009 girls High School Basketball season. A private Christian school, Covenant, beat the Dallas Academy 100-0. Covenant had played a full-court press the entire game and kept taking 3-point shots and led 59-0 at halftime. Clearly the Coach lit a fire under there ass and his squad put up another 41 points in the second half while still holding the other team scoreless. Dallas Academy Coach Jeremy Civello explained that the game had turned into a lay-up drill. The Covenant guards waited to steal the ball and drive to the basket.

Civello said that Covenant “finally eased up when they got to 100 with about four minutes left,” and was proud that his team held the team to just 12 4th quarter points. Here’s the twist. Dallas Academy is a school that specializes in teaching students that struggle with learning disabilities like ADD and Dyslexia. To make it worse the High School has just 20 girls in the entire school and 8 of those girls are on the starting Varsity Basketball team that lost 100-0.

Covenant got national attention for the ass kicking their team gave those “disabled” girls. After the story broke Covenant decided they would take the high road and forfeit the crushing victory. But is it still the high road when media coverage basically forced you to. It’s like a public figure who has cheated on their spouse and pictures are posted on magazines and newsstands across the country yet they make the conscious decision to tell the truth. No jackass, you were caught, publicly tarred and feathered, now you’re sorry and ready to do the right thing.

Kyle Queal the head of Covenant said that “it is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened, a victory without honor is a great loss” continuing to explain that this game “does not reflect Christ-like and honorable approach to competition. We humbly apologize for our actions”. Covenant Head Coach Micah Grimes never made a statement and was let’s not kid ourselves, if he had the full-court press on the entire game he knew what he was doing and was Goddamn proud of his girls.

It seems like the argument for mercy rules is to ensure the safety of the children who may be involved a lopsided match-up. I think that once again the acts of some are impacting the lives of many. If you were to poll parents about the leveling off of competition they may just agree with the side of tough love. Kids losing in sports and knowing that not every person is created equal may be an important life lesson to learn and what better way to learn that life lesson than through sports.

Youth sports have gone too far, limiting scoring, substituting players, giving everyone trophies and getting rid of individual awards. Those who excel in sports should be embraced, just like a student that flourishes in academics or the arts. Why should we shelter our children for a few years to learn an important lesson later in life? Why not prepare them sooner? I would argue that those girls who got their asses kicked learned a far greater lesson in life than those defensive players who no longer had to tackle Demias Jimerson.

Let the kids play! As long as they’re having fun it shouldn’t matter what happens in the game. If they complain about elite talent like Jimerson, blame their parents for being pussies. Because I’m nearly positive that kids are more in awe than in anger when somebody like Jimerson blazes past them on the football field. Do yourselves a favor and Youtube this kids highlight reel he will undoubtedly impress and hopefully his knees last a little longer than Madre Hills.

  1. Mrs. says:

    It appears you are taking the moral high road on this issue, because we all know you are the biggest sore loser around. However, I agree that if you’re going to lose or win, you’d like to be doing it in a game which wasn’t leveled to your dis/advantage.

  2. td says:

    gRAPE was heRe!!

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