How much mercy does a game need

Published 6:17 am Wednesday, January 28, 2004

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Baseball and softball have the 10-run rule. Most states have adopted some kind of mercy rule in football. Now basketball is starting to experiment with a mercy rule.
For those who are on the short end in those sporting events, it may be a little embarrassing to lose that way but it is also usually appreciated. That is why it is called mercy.
Yet did mercy go too far when the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers basketball team clubbed Northview (Fla.) 72-9 last week?
It is not uncommon now to see lopsided games go to a running clock when both sides agree. That happened Friday after the first quarter when T.R. Miller had a 29-3 lead.
Mercy took another step in the second half of that game when the quarters were shortened from eight to six minutes in addition to a running clock.
That may not sound like much of a big deal until you realize how quick those six minutes go by with a running clock.
Take a couple of free throws, a couple of moments to track down a wild loose ball out of bounds or to wave in some substitutions and those six minutes disappear in a hurry.
The actual playing time in the second half of that game was about two minutes per quarter.
True, all this kept the score from being more ridiculous than what it was. At the same time it significantly reduced the playing time for players on both sides, especially reserve players who normally do not see a lot of varsity minutes. Games such as this are where that kind of player gets to play and improve his/her skills.
It might be a different argument if there was a full junior varsity schedule for girls to go along with the varsity schedule. That would allow plenty of playing minutes for everybody.
That is the case in many parts of the country. For example in my native state of Illinois, boys and girls play separate schedules and each sex has their own varsity/junior varsity schedule. The average junior varsity schedule is 16-18 games.
That is not the case here. For many players, the varsity game is their only opportunity to see playing time.
Friday's "double mercy" game may have helped in the short term picture, but it probably did not help in the long term.
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An ironic thing about the Lady Tigers' win over Northview Friday was Northview's Alexis White scored all nine of the Lady Chiefs points.
When T.R. Miller hosted Northview back in December, the Lady Tigers won 71-9. White also had all nine of Northview's points in that game.
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Pairings, dates and game times have been announced for next month's Class 3A Area Boys and Girls Basketball Tournament. T.R. Miller will host both events.
In the girls tournament, Clarke County and W.S. Neal will play a first-round game February 13 at 5 p.m. The winner will play T.R. Miller, which is the top seed and has a first-round bye, February 14 at 5 p.m. for the championship.
The boys tournament has identical pairings. Clarke County and W.S. Neal will play a first-round game February 13 at 7 p.m. The winner will play top-seeded T.R. Miller February 14 at 7 p.m. for the championship.
W.S. Neal High School will hold its varsity football awards night February 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the National Guard Armory in East Brewton.
The W.S. Neal Blue Eagles and Lady Eagles basketball teams will now be at Pleasant Home February 3 instead of at home. Starting time is at 5 p.m.

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