An eight year old boy named Elijah Burrell in Georgia playing PeeWee football scored a touchdown and got his team fined $500 and his coach suspended for a week. Wait, what? No, he didn’t do any kind of orchestrated, lewd celebration dance. He simply scored a touchdown, the thing that he had been told to do all along. However his team, the Lawrenceville Black Knights were already winning 32-0. His league has something called the “mercy rule” where if a team is winning by more than 33 points, they are not allowed to score again… you know, so the losing team doesn’t feel bad. “Unfortunately” young Elijah intercepted a pass and no one was able to stop him from scoring his FIRST touchdown. Stop punching your screen, it won’t help.
Eight year olds, Dude. Eight year olds.
The boy’s mother says that there is no way that he would have known he was breaking the rules. It was his first season playing football, and oh yeah; you are supposed to SCORE playing football, any eight year old knows that. Parents on the sidelines yelled for him to stop, but it was too late. A huge overreaction and parenting fail was about to happen. The mercy rule had been broken. Lord have mercy.
One mother asked; “How do I explain to an eight-year-old kid that your coach has been suspended because your teammate unintentionally scored?”
In reaction to this story a lot of people have pointed out that this is no way to “teach kids about real life.” If the losing team wants to know what playing and losing fairly is all about, they need to suck it up. What difference does it make, they were already losing by 32 points, what does another touchdown matter?
So we arn't supposed to score?
On the other hand I think it is a way to teach kids about the “real” world. Everyone is focused on the lesson it will teach the losing team, which will supposedly instantly turn them into a bunch of wusses, unable to handle loss and rejection. What about the kid that scored the touchdown and got his team in trouble? In life you are going to have to deal with a lot of bureaucratic bullshit that makes no damn sense. “Rules are rules” and every once in a while they only serve to screw you over. This kid is going to be talking about this event the rest of his life; it may make him a better man. When he is thirty seven and he walks into work and loses the big account because someone forgot to submit the paperwork correctly, instead of getting pissed, he’ll throw his arms up and yell “Touchdown!”
But tell me what you think; is the "mercy rule" a well intentioned idea to teach kids good sportsmanship or does it go to far?
Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney