MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A high school football coach in Nassau County has become the first to be suspended for running up the score.
It’s an unusual rule designed to protect teams from demoralizing defeat, but in this case it is controversial, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.
The result was surprisingly lopsided, 61-13 in favor of Plainedge.
But instead of celebrating victory, Rob Shaver, the winning team’s coach, was hit with a one-game suspension by the Nassau County High School Athletic Association for violating its unique rule that prohibits coaches from running up the score by more than 42 points. It’s a policy that was created at the request of educators.
“There is nothing served by beating a team in football by 60 points, by 50 points, you know? Come up with a policy that we can enforce so we don’t embarrass the other team,” said Patrick Pizzarelli, executive director of Section 8 of the New York State High School Athletic Association.
The rule was adopted two years ago in recognition that high school football is supposed to be educational and “designed to encourage participation and sportsmanship,” give second-tier players a chance if the game is going to be a blow out.
“They practiced all week. Don’t they deserve to play in a game? Let’s do it for for the kids,” Pizzarelli said.
Shaver declined comment, but has said he didn’t intentionally run up the score, adding he feared South Side could stage a comeback. It’s a sentiment shared by Dr. Williams Johnson, that school’s superintendent. South Side’s district, Rockville Centre, did not lodge a complaint about the lopsided score.
“Teams can come back and our team has done it a couple of times during this year,” Johnson said.
Plainedge’s superintendent, Dr. Edward A. Salina Jr., blasted the suspension of beloved Shaver in a letter, calling the county’s athletic committee “a kangaroo court.” He said his coach been done wrong by a rule “not in place anywhere else in New York.”
Some players and parents called the ruling unfair.
“They were very compatible teams and it wasn’t like they were playing a team that wasn’t doing as well,” said Katina Slade, the mother of a Plainedge junior varsity player.
“Football is a competition. You play to win,” JV player Ashton Slade added.
“There is no mercy rule for baseball. There’s none that I know of so why should it only be in football?” another person said.
The policy, also referred to as the “slaughter” rule, could be expanded to other high school sports. The Nassau County High School Athletic Association is considering an expansion at the end of the school year.
The ruling body said the policy is working. In just two years, lopsided-score games have fallen from more than two dozen in a year to just five this year. Each case is reviewed to determine if suspension is warranted.