A Dallas girl's basketball team is seeking to forfeit a game they won 100-0, and has apologized for the margin of victory. Gracious? Or part of a disturbing and age-old pattern?
Said the principal of the private Covenant School, "It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened...a victory without honor is a great loss." The issue, as he and the school see it, is poor sportsmanship: in a fever of bloodlust, the team, spectators and coaches forgot one of the tacit rules of school athletics, which is, don't humiliate an opponent. Says a mother from the opposing school, "I think the bad judgment was in the full-court press and the 3-point shots... At some point, they should have backed off."
In the case of Covenant, it's hard to say whether the issue has anything to do with sex: it's a Christian academy in a part of the country where sports, and sportsmanship, are no joke. It seems unlikely that boys would have escaped the same penalty. Yet clearly, something about the story has struck a nerve: several tipsters brought it to our attention and seemed troubled by what feels like a larger culture that discourages female competition.
Interestingly, Shakesville happens to touch on a somewhat similar issue today: the age-old practice of feminine self-sabotage. It's one of the oldest tricks in a coquette's book to play dumb and helpless and stroke a guy's ego. The blog contrasts an open instance of this — a thrown archery tourney in a Lousia May Alcott novel — with the ad campaign for the dating site Chemistry.com, specifically a woman's "vow": "I promise to take out the recycling, even though I think you’re way better at it." The double whammy of servitude and old-school feminine self-deprecation is, at best, a pretty lame marketing ploy. But none of this is, in itself, much to get one's knickers in a twist about. The issue is a deeper one, and has to do with all these things in combination: clearly those who found the Covenant forfeit troubling see a link between this sort of "graciousness" and a culture that rewards throwing games. On the other hand, surely there is something between the two — keeping the win, perhaps, while extending an apology (which, in any event, isn't going to make their humiliated rivals feel any better!) — which would serve as a better example in every respect?