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European edition, Friday, September 21, 2007

Football leagues within DODDS-Pacific have mercy rules similar to those in Europe — running clock and starters must leave the field after teams establish leads of 40 or more points.

But it has no plans to adopt DODDS-Europe’s football score-reporting rule, one official said.

In instances when teams go in front by 40 or more points, “there are measures taken to ensure that we don’t have blowouts,” said DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council chair Don Hobbs.

“[But] we will report scores as they occur,” Hobbs said.

A sampling of Pacific coaches disagreed with the DODDS-Europe decision; at least two called it “ridiculous.”

“I hope we never do that,” said Jim Burgeson, athletics director at Robert D. Edgren High in Japan. He coached Edgren’s football teams for three seasons, 2003-2005, and was “on the wrong side of more than a few of those games, but I would never want the actual score misreported.”

Reporting an inaccurate score has “no positive effect” on the players from the losing team, said Taegu American coach Ken Walter, who coached in Florida before moving to South Korea.

“Preventing, as much as possible, the lopsided score is more effective,” he said.

“The kids know what the score was; there is no way to change the fact that the score was so one-sided,” said Steven Merrell, in his first year coaching at Zama American with nine years’ coaching experience in Oklahoma.

“It should be remembered that we are talking about competitive high school football, not youth sports where they may not keep score. This appears to be an extension of other areas of society in which we try to ‘sugar-coat’ things to avoid hurting feelings.

“Reality is just that, reality.”

Tim Pujol, who coaches Yokota in Japan, recalls a game as an assistant with Taegu in South Korea when his team beat Osan 90-0. The score was 60-0 in the second quarter when Osan’s coaches approached the referees to stop the game, but Osan’s players argued for the game to continue.

“‘Coach, we know we’re not going to win, but we need to play all four quarters, or else how are we going to get better?’” Pujol recalled the Osan players saying.

“Those kids wanted to play and they really weren’t overly disturbed by the lopsidedness,” said Pujol, whose Yokota teams played 15 mercy-rule games in DODDS-Japan competition from 2001 to 2003.

“The kids who suffer through the loss know fully well what happened and … coaches and community have a harder time dealing with it than the kids.”

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