Simple Soccer Sportsmanship: Don’t Score Sixteen

Maya Lapp

I love to win, but I play on the Obama girls’ soccer team, and so far our best outcome has been a tie. However, our team has more fun than any other group on the field. There is not a single team that enjoys themselves more than we do. All the same, it’s hard sometimes, losing every game. No matter what people say about a sport being played for the fun of it, everyone likes a good win.
But what is a good win? Is it when you beat a team 16-0? We’ve been on the receiving end of that sort of game, and I can promise you it’s not fun for anyone. It’s not even enjoyable for the winners. What joy is there in scoring a goal every five minutes? For you American football fans out there, that’s akin to scoring almost 100 points in football. Yeah, I agree, that’s just wrong. There is absolutely no situation in which a team should score that many goals.
At the beginning of every sporting event the PIAA officials are required to read a scripted piece saying this:
“PIAA requires all registered sports’ officials to enforce the sportsmanship rules… Actions meant to demean opposing contestants, teams, spectators and officials… will not be tolerated. Let today’s contest reflect mutual respect.”
Thursday the Obama boys’ soccer team beat Steel Valley 16-0. In my opinion this is the height of unsportsmanlike conduct. What could be more demeaning to the opponents? There is also some sort of unspoken rule in WPIAL soccer that nine goals is the max. After nine goals a team stops scoring and that’s that. I think scoring nine is entirely unnecessary, but be that as it may at least there’s some sort of limit.
I’m not saying it’s just the players’ fault. It’s also up to the coach to find a goal for the team to meet before scoring. Finding a way to score against a good team, sure that’s hard for a coach to do, but there are many ways that a coach can limit the number of goals his/her team scores. Simple things like scoring with their left foot, or passing four times in the penalty box before shooting. If that’s too easy, make it five passes, make the team score with their head. I’ve been down by eight goals in the first half before, and yet the opposing team still managed to keep the score under ten. Apparently the boy’s team was too good to respect that rule. They just couldn’t help but score. Yeah. Right.
At school when I expressed my resentment at the score of the game I was met with an appalling amount of disregard. The boys said they put their JV team in- okay, that’s a good first step- and that they “scored by accident”. In soccer you don’t score seven goals by accident.
What really made me angry was the oblivious attitude of many students when they heard about the score. At best they were mildly sorry for the other team, and at worst they were proud of winning by so much. The excuse many gave was that the other team was being jerks to them. Well I’m sure I would start playing brutally if a team decided to score sixteen goals on me. I’m not a violent person, but if a team demoralized me that much, I would start to get mad and retaliate. Whatever the actions of the opposing team, we must hold our respect for the game. When the Steel Valley players go back to their school what do you think they’ll be saying about Obama Academy? I’m pretty sure whatever they say it won’t be about our incredible sportsmanship.