Apologizing for Blowout Match

I came across an article earlier today about a high school basketball team who won a match 100-0, and is now seeking to forfeit their win. They have apologized for their margin of victory, and commended the losing team on their strength of character for continuing for the duration of the match.

While I was reading the article, I kept making connections to FIRST- the concept of competition and Gracious Professionalism simultaneously, and the controversy over this year’s rule <G14>. I’ve been mulling over this article, and over the concept of a blowout match, and I’m still not sure how I want to react to this. Some of the statements in the article include, “it is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened” and, “a victory without honor is a great loss”. Those are some pretty heavy statements.

I’m bringing this to others in the FIRST community to see how you feel about this. There are a lot of questions swirling in my mind- is it more honorable to play to your fullest when you are clearly dominating a match, or should you back off at a point? If you are clearly losing a match by a great margin, would you prefer that your opponents to give their all or take it easy on you? Is it shameful to win a match by a huge margin? Did this team do the right thing in apologizing to the winning team and asking to forfeit the match?

Obviously, there are no right answers to these questions, so please respect the opinions of others in this thread, even if they are radically different from yours. My intent is not to start a flame war, but to start a thought-provoking discussion on issues that relate to FIRST as well as to the real world.

If I were on the losing team, I would not accept a forfeit from the winners.

  1. People need to understand, that a match in FRC is 2 minutes of craziness. In any match, if a team is not fully trying, then they might be open to a sneak up victory. Each alliance aims to win, their strategy is generally based off scoring the most amount of points in 2 minutes, and in some cases, maybe even limiting the other alliance’s points.

In the basketball match, the players acted with a great amount of Gracious Professionalism. Basketball is about 2.5 hours of intense, analytical game play. Everyone is caught up in the moment, but none the less, the coaches should have understood at half time that they should probably back off, and let the other team have a chance. It was really bold of them to offer to forfeit their next match. I do not believe they should need to, but if they believe they must, then it is for them to decide if they wish to approach such extremes of humility.

As for the rule this year, I do not believe that an alliance can completely not have control over what they are doing. In many matches I have seen robots scoring for the other alliance, and this would be nothing new. My only concern is, in those exciting 2 minutes, what happens if things get out of control? People on the field are just content at driving and doing their best.

None the less, the amount of Gracious Professionalism is truly amazing. I applaud the members of the team, coaches and all, for showing such humility.

Same here. A match that you win 100-0 might not have much honor, but taking a match you lost as a win is undignified. And rather confusing.

FIRST is about cooper-tition. I have always taken that to mean that everybody is going to work together to help the less able robots to work better, not to limit the working alliances from performing at their full capacity.

Personally, I think that if you are good at something, you should give it your all. I played on an all losing team one year and it was frustrating, but it wasn’t terrible. I still had fun. Then, I played on an undefeated team. It was great, because we really played well together. If you’re good at something, you shouldn’t have to “tone it down” because your opponent isn’t as good. They didn’t have to play you. (my opinion, of course what that team did is nice.) (yet again, what’s done is done, and they could have decided to put in the bench at half time)

Also, I guarantee that someone will mess up their count (especially if live scoring isn’t working) and lose a match trying to avoid a G14.
But seriously, who wants to watch the Cheesy Poofs park their bot in front of an opposing outpost and let the payload specialist (woo new jargon!) dump moonrocks in?

First, I want to re-iterate what the OP said - that with such a complex issue, many different viewpoints are possible and respectable. I also want to say that this is a fantastic idea for a thread and a great opportunity to allow us to examine the concept of GP in a new light.

I agree. My own opinion is that the winning team should not let up. They should definitely not forfeit - that’s just rediculous.

Let’s say that the team that was winning had let up and alllowed the other team to score a basket. There are two possibilities here: one, that the other team would realize that they were being allowed to score, and the other that they wouldn’t.

In the first situation (they realize that the other team is slacking off), this poisons the possibility of future victories. What do I mean by this? Put yourself in the position of the losing team. You just scored, but only because the other team let you. However, let’s say that three minutes later in the game, you saw a great scoring opportunity and took it. Wouldn’t you suspect that the other team had simply allowed you to score again?

In the second situation, the winning team is implicitly deceiving the losing team by letting them score - in other words, they are lying to them. Some people might say that this is a good thing (a “white lie” perhaps). I disagree, though I’m not really interested in arguing the point, since there’s no point to be argued. If you think lying to make people feel better is generally good, I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise.

Anyway - another interesting question. What should have been done? A few people have said (including myself) that the winning team should not forfeit. Several sources in the article said that they should have backed off at halftime. I disagree - but what should they have done? Definitely an open question, but again, here’s my opinion:

If at all possible within the rules of the league, the coaches of the two teams should have met at halftime and talked things over, coming to some mutually agreeable decision. One possibility might have been for the losing team to forfeit, and continue play with mixed teams. Another would be for the winning team to mentor the losing team in how to play better (though this obviously has potential for ill will). Continuing play wasn’t necessarily a bad idea - it just seems to me that there might have been more constructive things to do.

I’m probably going to be in the minority here but … here goes:

This is a competition, and to not do my best when we’re on the competition field is unfair to my alliance partners and shows disrespect to my opponents and to the game itself. Therefore, when we are on the competition field, we will play the game as hard, and as well, as we can until the final horn sounds.

However, once we are off the competition field, we will help all who need help. Not just because of GP, but because it is right. We would rather lose because we helped someone, than win because we didn’t.

Every year I teach my team the following: “This is a competition, and in a competition the goal is to win, however, how you achieve that goal shows the true measure of the person”.

If I were losing by 100-nothing. I’d feel disappointed. If they let up, I’d be furious. I wouldn’t mind them putting in their second string. But anything more then that would be a spit to the face.

If I were winning by 100-nothing. I’d feel sorry. I would not insult the opponent by giving them easy points or anything of the sort. However, I would probably switch to my second string. This would be for dual purpose. First, I don’t want to beat them by too much and secondly I would be giving the bench warmers a chance to play.

I agree with the statement that “it is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened.” But now step back and find out why it happened. Academy suffers from a lack of resources (only 20 girls in the school to choose from) and was likely woefully underprepared. They haven’t won in 4 years. The athletic association that schedules games should have procedures in place to avoid having unbalanced matchups like this in the first place. I know that’s difficult to do - I scheduled youth soccer games for many years and it’s hard to predict just which team will turn into a powerhouse and which team will implode.

So how does this compare with FRC? Rather than offering to forfeit the game, Covenant should take a GP attitude and offer to help Academy to improve. I’ve emailed them:

I saw a story about your girls basketball game with Dallas Academy: http://highschool.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=903780 It was cross-posted to a robotics forum, ChiefDelphi.com, which contains discussion about FIRST Robotics ( usfirst.org ).

One of FIRST’s highest ideals is the concept of Gracious Professionalism:
Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical

Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coined the term "Gracious


Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It’s a way of doing things that

encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and

the community.

With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions.

Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and

kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk,

but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably


“In the long run, gracious professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. If one becomes

a professional, and uses knowledge in a gracious manner, everyone wins. One can add to

society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you have acted with integrity and sensitivity.

That’s good stuff!”

Rather than offering to forfeit the game, perhaps your team could offer some training and coaching help to Academy improve.

Gary Voshol

At least the winning team didn’t score in the shutout team’s basket…

I saw the story on the news last night, and quite honestly, I got a very “fake, artificial, reactionary” vibe watching it. According to the story, fans of the winning team cheered each and every bucket down to the last seconds of the game. Seemed to me the apology/press release, issued by the school administration, not the team, was a damage control reaction to the media and other backlash. I would not chalk this example up as one of the “inspiring” examples of GP in sports, no matter how “sorry” school officials claimed to be after the fact.

All that being said, I don’t think you can compare what goes on at any sporting event where the score is 100% certain all the time to an event where the winner of the match, due to uncertain penalties and nebulous “realtime” scoring, is in much doubt. Asking a team to “play nice” on the field and sandbag it to “help” struggling teams is not productive, if that is indeed the intent of G14. Asking a team to “play nice” off the field by helping the struggling team learn how to improve their design, build, and programming skills makes all the difference in the world.

“Leveling the playing field” by bulldozing the buildings that serve as a city’s best “architecture” down to ground level is not progress. “Filling in the gaps” by having the architects build new architecture on the city’s vacant lots is.

And if G14 isn’t primarily designed to have an “inspirational” correction to the game, as has been posited but never confirmed, then as a strategic aspect, I don’t think it will carry much of a “fear factor” in teams’ match planning. Because 4-2 or 4-0 are valid penalizable G14 scores, there’s too much “noise” in the certainty of the in-match scores and penalties to justify daintily limiting your offensive output. This will be especially true in the eliminations, where blowouts will be rare and teams will score first, ask questions later.

In the end, regardless of the intent of the rule, which seems to often be the source of any passionate debate, moreso than its effect on the game, I don’t believe it will have a big impact on how teams strategize, and this is how I expect to proceed this year.

Hmm, even more interesting, I found a follow-up article with the coach saying he didn’t want to apologize for the match, since the girls played “with honor and integrity”. I just thought I’d share that with everyone, since I started the thread. I don’t know if anyone else has feedback on this, but thanks to everyone who did share your opinions above. The diverse responses were really interesting. It’s cool to see that you had different takes on the situation and how it applies to FIRST and GP.

Agree with Adam.

Kinda like if team 25 brutally beat us 80-0, its not like we’d think they did anything wrong in bringing their best if we did too.


I hope we never BRUTALLY beat anybody. But I do tell my team to always do their best. Win or lose you can always live with yourself if you do.

In the case of the basketball team- if I were the coach I probably would have realized that the game was a blowout very early and would have directed my players to shoot from outside the 3 pt zone or make x-number of passes before each shot. That would give the other team an honorable chance and save some face for them. If after all that the game is still a blowout I don’t think there is anything to be ashamed of.

I would question the folks who placed the OTHER team in the league with the full knowledge that they would never be viable in a competitive environment due to the small size and limited nature of their school. All that would serve to do is demoralize those kids after every loss. I am sure there are non-competitive "Intramural "type options available.

Hehe, by brutally I just meant by a huge scoring gap. :stuck_out_tongue:

Before I am accused of anything, I should probably make it clear that I come down firmly in the anti-G14 camp. However, the coaches (not the players, who should never be faulted for listening to their coach and playing as hard as they can) of the Covenant School should be ashamed of themselves, for several reasons:

-The game was against not only a tiny private school, but one specialising in students with learning difficulties. Now, of course that is no reason not to compete as much as usual, but they should have shown a basic amount of compassion.

-They were clearly going for the 100 points they got to without any regard for their opponents. Plus, when they got there (with about four minutes left, according to the article) they stopped. If you’re going to compete to this ridiculous agree, at least do it for a better reason then a big, round number.

-They were clearly attempting to press their advantage by employing the full-court press, which (for those who don’t know basketball) is a high-pressure defensive technique that is rarely used at most levels. They were also taking 3-pointers, in an obvious effort to run up the score. I am not sure about this, and may be wrong, but I think I may have heard somewhere that they had their starting players in as well.

The coach was fired recently (less then an hour ago, apparently!) for changing his stance and refusing to apologize.

I would post on what this has to do with FIRST, but it’s 2 AM and a) I have class tomorrow and b) I would like to be coherent when I do so :yikes:

I will never apologize for winning a match. I will play my hardest and push myself, my drivers, and my alliance partners to continue to do the same. Which would make you more embarrassed, losing a match 80-0 where your opponent played all out and played to the best of their ability or losing a match 80-41 where your opponent scored a majority of the points your alliance scored to prevent getting a G14. I know i would rather lose 80-0, at least in that situation I know my opponent respects me enough that scoring on themselves is a dangerous risk to them.

A team can never play its best when it is competing against a team that can’t play on the same level. Neither team can. The team who scored 100 - 0, scored 100 - 0. Period. They didn’t play to their best ability.

For those comparing a basketball game to this year’s FRC game, it can’t be done. Different rules. How the teams on the alliances play according to the rules and the scoring will determine the teams who play to the best of their ability.

Sometimes running up a score is just that.

The school apologized but the coach didn’t.
One of the main points of debate is the unwritten rule in basketball that when you are winning by a larger margin, you play the ‘b’ team and back off on the full court press. Neither of those things occured.
Someone should teach the rest of the world GP.
Or take away their ball for the next match :wink: