Running Up the Score

Today’s question is how to celebrate success without looking like a complete jerk.

Enter the Kirtland Hornets football team. They have won every game in the past three years except for a one-point loss in the 2012 State Championship. The young men on the team are not extraordinary athletes, but they condition and practice extremely hard and often, and their coaches inspire both loyalty and discipline.

The Hornets frequently steamroll their competition. With scores like last Friday’s 66-0 win, people frequently accuse the team of “running up the score,” somehow taking advantage of the weaker teams and bludgeoning them like harp seals. This perception, as actual spectators of the game can attest, is faulty. In actuality, the coach plays JV team members; then, he gives the freshmen a shot.

When I post the score on Facebook, however, (just the score, not any information about the pulverization of the other team,) I receive pushback from friends who believe it is tacky to win by such a margin and to celebrate such a brutal success. Am I bragging? A little. I am very proud of my son and his teammates who have earned every point through many, many hours of hard practice.

Still, friends have commented that I’m out of line for posting the score, and that I am I being insensitive to the feelings of the other team.  It would have been more accurate but less kind to say, “and they won despite the fact that the coach used the freshman quarterback and his weaker players for the majority of the game.” That information illustrates the Hornet’s sportsmanship, but it also makes the other team appear even weaker.

Sometimes in life, we get pulverized. We lose a job or a relationship. We fail a test or a class. We fall hard; we get up, and we keep playing. Other times, often through extremely hard work and discipline, we succeed. Should we temper our celebration? Perhaps. Should we discount success and curtail our joy? No.

“Mediocrity” does not equal “fairness.” Obviously, we should not be obnoxious to others who struggle, but neither should we bury our victories in the cat box.