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Running up the score


The Rookie
Dec 9, 2009
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Greenville, NC
The other night I was watching the ESPN film "The U" about the very talented (and controversial) University of Miami football teams of the 1980s and early 1990s. Over all, I found it to be very entertaining and somewhat enlightening.

One of the segments of the film talked about a 1985 match between the 'Canes and the Fighting Irish. Miami was accused of running up the score. The term, and the stigma surrounding, running up the score, was always a mystery to me. I remember a few years ago when the Patriots beat the living daylights out of the Redskins (52-7?) and everyone getting upset with the Pats about it. I'm hardly a Patriots fan, but I couldn't help but wonder why? The offense is supposed to score points. That's exactly what they did. Who's to say what enough is? Besides, they're all professionals. They should be on the same level. I was mad at OUR guys for not keeping it somewhat close. If you don't want another team to score points, keep them from scoring. That's what the defense is for. If you can't, don't whine. Just get better. Lord knows when I played sports (though it was a while ago), I was on the giving and receiving end of some nasty butt kickings. When the other team shellacked us, I didn't get mad at them. I got mad at myself and my team mates for playing a rotten game.

So, I ask you guys...what is your opinion on "running up the score"?
Its a question of sportsmanship. If you're up by 4 scores with not much time left, and the other team isn't showing any signs of fighting back, its poor form to be throwing deep and going for more points. You run, take time off the clock, and end the game. Now if you run and they can't stop you, that's another thing altogether.
What Lanky said. All teams have been in the situation of being dominated. When a team finds itself in the position of dominator, at some point, some empathy should kick in and easing up on the accelerator is in order.

My opinion.
I can understand that mode of thinking in the college, high school (or lower) levels; but professionals are supposed to be on same level. That's why they're professionals.
I was thinking about this today. As far as the NE Skins game, I strongly believe it was Belichek coaching against a Hall of Fame coach and wanting to make a statement against Coach Gibbs.
Here, in the Australian Football League, scores play a huge part in determining a teams final position.

For example, three teams could finish on the same W/L ratio, but final positions are determined by a percentage of points scored for divided by points scored against, multiplied by 100.

Team A has scored 2314 points over the whole season, and has had 1905 points scored against them. Therefore, their percentage would be 121.47%.

Team B has scored 2284 points, with 2087 scored against. Their percentage would be 109.44, and placing them behind team A in the final standings.

However, Team C has scored 2159 points, with 1735 points scored against them. Even though they have scored fewer total points over the season, their percentage would be 124.44, placing them ahead of both Team A and Team B.

Would a system like this be better in the NFL rather than the current tie-break system?

Back to the topic subject, did Baltimore run up the score today? What about Tennessee? Both were well in front at half time and could have played back-ups.
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I didn't really go looking at the time-I may now because of this thread-but I wonder if there was much if any vociferous complaint after New England's 59-0 drubbing of the Titans back in October?
If you've got a big lead and the reserves are scoring there isn't much to do.
You can't tell these guys to hold back. If you leave your starters in or put them back in then that is different.
SkinnedAussie makes a great point - some sports its a little harder to ease off the accelerator, whether for the sake of standings, or just because the game is so fast. In hockey, if you mess around with the puck too much, you're gonna turn it over and give the other team scoring opportunities. Sure there's defense-minded play, but you still attack in those situations if the opportunity presents itself. What teams also do is rotate their lines a bit more, so the Ovechkins and Semins of the league don't play as much as time is winding down.
Another point to consider is that when players start to ease up, that is when injuries are more likely to occur. When you practice, you practice to play flat out, so if you start playing at half speed, you are just asking for trouble.

Back in 2007, the team (Geelong) that won the AFL Grand Final (our version of the SB) won by 120 points. That is 20 goals. Even though the winning team was the bench-mark all year, their opponent wasn't a 20-goal worse team. On the day, everything fell into place and the result was what it was. Fast forward 12 months later, and the same team is again in the GF, but against a different opponent. Going in, Geelong were unbackable favorites, but in the upset of the year, got beaten.

I'm heading off-topic again, but I'm trying to explain that running up the score isn't necessarily something a team plans on doing; it sometimes just happens. When it does, who do you blame? The coaches? They are doing what they are paid to do, just like the players.
I just think there are clear examples of "running up the score." In some sports its more obvious than others, like American football. Some sports teams are never more than a few quick-strikes away from getting within one or two goals (soccer and hockey). It all depends...its not a etched-in-stone definition.

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