Coaches, council discussing score-adjustment policy
High school football coaches in Europe were circulating e-mails Monday, aiming for a consensus on what to do about a Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe policy that requires coaches to adjust the scores reported to Stars and Stripes of games that are decided by more than 39 points.
The policy led Stripes’ editors, concluding that some scores under such a rule inevitably will be falsely reported, to decline to print last weekend’s high school results. The newspaper’s move, in turn, put a new item on the agenda of this week’s European Athletic Council meeting. The council, composed of three coaches, four administrators, two student-athletes and two military commanders, will examine the reporting policy, according to Bitburg coach Mike Laue.
“The thing I can say is that the European Athletic Council is going to meet this week,” Laue said by telephone on Monday, “and that’s one of the things we’re going to look at.”
Laue was the only member of the council Stars and Stripes was able to contact on Monday. DODDS-Europe director Diana Ohman is on temporary duty and athletic director Karen Seadore did not return calls to her cell phone. Ohman’s deputy also did not respond to Stripes.
For his part, AFNORTH Lions’ coach Greg Blankenship has already made up his mind about the 39-point reporting rule.
“It’s 100 percent wrong,” he said by telephone on Monday. “You don’t print anything that isn’t right.”
Blankenship said his experience refutes the stated purpose of the policy: to prevent possible embarrassment of players on the losing team.
“When I came here, we got mercy-ruled all the time,” he said. “There wasn’t a kid on my team who cared what the score was. We just wanted to play and see ourselves improve. I’ve never coached a kid who was embarrassed by the score.”
Blankenship’s latest encounter with the 39-point reporting rule came during his team’s shutout Saturday over outmanned Brussels. Blankenship filed a report summarizing the scoring of his team by player and time. After the game reached 37-0, a subsequent Lions touchdown made the score 43-0 and invoked the mercy rule. The actual score was not for publication.
“My principal and an official came down to me on the field,” Blankenship said, “and said you will make sure it’s reported as 39-0.”
Blankenship dutifully did, in the process reducing Kyle Higgins’ 15-yard scoring run to a one-of-a-kind two-point touchdown.
Blankenship also objects to the running clock, imposed when one team leads by 35 points.
“Saturday, I went to the Brussels coaches and told them we needed to work on 10 scripted plays to get ready for Baumholder,” Blankenship said of the Oct. 6 matchup. “We needed to have [QB Frederick] Leonard learn to throw the crossing route to the tight end, and our young line needed to learn to reach-block. You can’t learn it without running the sweep.
“The offensive and defensive starters played only one quarter of football again this week,” he wrote in a Saturday e-mail reporting the game, “…Baumholder will be nine quarters ahead of us.”
Short games work against the outmanned team, too, he said.
“We used to get beaten down every week,” he said. “The kids hated the mercy rule. They knew they weren’t going to win, but they wanted to play and get some game film, so they could see themselves improve. Quickening the game took the game away from us.”
Mannheim coach Frank Macias, whose team ended an 18-game losing streak Sept. 15, supported the running clock but not the 39-point reporting rule in a Monday e-mail.
“I think the running clock is good to help get it over when the outcome is no longer in doubt,” he wrote. “But report the correct scores. And don’t end the game due to a mercy rule.”
Laue, whose victory over Mannheim on Saturday officially ended 42-3 in the Barons’ favor, has no problem with the mercy rule. He doesn’t support, however, changing the score after the fact.
“Just give them the real score,” he said. “Let’s tell it what it is. Life is what it is, and football’s what it is.”
Football courtesy rule
From DODDS-Europe’s 2007 football newsletter
35-Point Differential Rule When one team has a 35-point lead at halftime, the final two quarters will continue to be played, but the clock will only be stopped for quarter breaks, time outs, injuries, scores and safety purposes. If the team that was once trailing cuts the lead to less than 35 points, then normal clock operations will resume.
If coaches and officials agree, the game can be shortened or halted if continuing the game would serve no purpose or puts student-athletes at risk of injury.
Reporting of scores Scores will indicate no more than a 39-point differential. Example: Team A scores 54 points with the running clock and Team B scores 0 points. Score reported would be 39-0.