Mercy can be defined as: compassion shown to victims of misfortune, if you accept the authority of Merriam-Webster to define the English language.
And, provided you extend that authority to TheLongTalk, the players and fans of Angola’s National Basketball Team can clearly be defined as “victims of misfortune,” given their resent 55 point drumming (121-66) at the hands of Team USA.
Historically this game isn’t even Angola’s worst Team USA beat down. In 1992 The Dream Team dismantled Angola, winning by 68 points, and iced the cake with the super classy Charles Barkley suggesting he feared possible payback in the form of spear attack.
Now speaking from a position of experience, TheLongTalk having been on the receiving end of a basketball thumping (40-4) during his middle school days… a thumping wherein TheLongTalk was the only member of his team to score… and even then only from the foul line… getting smacked down sucks. It sucks real bad.
A lopsided loss leaves everyone, even the winners, with a sour taste in their mouths. Losers feel humiliated, winners feel like bullies, and fans feel like they’ve wasted their precious time.
And so from this sour taste was born the great sports equalizer… The Mercy Rule (TMR). Now you won’t come across TMR if your sports experience is limited to the professional level, in the pros there is no mercy… nor should there be, but if you’ve ever watched a mismatched Little League game end at 5 innings then you’ve seen The Mercy Rule in action.
The underlying theory of TMR appears to be…
1. Children cannot handle the shame that goes hand-in-hand with getting it handed to them on the field of play
2. Adults must protect said children from the horrifying disgrace of losing
3. Officials should step in when a game has lost its competitive nature and end it at a logical stopping point… after the third quarter or 5th inning, etc.
4. This will result in a better sports world for everyone
TheLongTalk will admit that it is pretty hard to argue the logic of TMR when that sour taste is still on your tongue or when you’ve just avoided an embarrassing experience. At these moments The Mercy Rule seems like your best friend… and maybe it is.
But TheLongTalk cares not for The Mercy Rule!!!
If you’ll jump quickly back to the top of this little rant you’ll see that mercy involves compassion, which itself can be defined as: a sympathetic feeling. This means that in order for there to be mercy there must be sympathy.
TMR knows no sympathy, TMR is not about compassion… The Mercy Rule is a system put in place to save face and to minimize hurt feelings.
Now let me make myself clear on this point… TheLongTalk has no problem with avoiding hurt feelings or minimizing face lossage… TheLongTalk is cool with mercy, it’s the rule part that chafes him.
When we make mercy a rule it is robbed of its compassion and left empty, shallow, and pathetic. By the time an official is forced to use The Mercy Rule the opportunity for true mercy has already been missed.
The answer to the sour taste isn’t forced mercy… it’s real compassion.
When a coach benches his starters because he’s up by 20, that’s real compassion. When players in the game self regulate with an impromptu “no fast breaks” rule, that’s real sympathy. When a team realizes that it is within their power to destroy and humiliate their opponent but chooses not to, of their own accord, that’s real mercy.
And don’t think that players can’t tell the difference. The children that TMR is meant to protect know when their being pitied, when their being felt sorry for. They know when the mercy isn’t real… and it’s worse. To know that you’ve not only been beaten, but that the game had to be ended early because your team is so pathetic you couldn’t make a sporting match of it.
Fake mercy helps no one and teaches nothing of value. Losing teams learn only that when it’s clear you can no longer win.. you should call it a day… and winning teams are given a pass on lessons involving empathy… their responsibility for sportsmanlike conduct is simply passed on to the officials.
TheLongTalk says no to The Mercy Rule, even if that means more double digit disgraces, and YES to a sports system that promotes empathy and good sportsmanship that come from within.
With many grammatical errors,