On Wednesday, April 1, the Eastern Kentucky University baseball team took on Kentucky State and the result was anything but pretty.
After a 22-run first inning, EKU went on to a 49-1 blowout victory that was mercifully halted after five innings.
While neither team held hard feelings after the loss (KSU was charged with nine errors, and should have been charged with more, according to their coach), the absurdity of the final score raises the question of who, exactly, is to blame for games that get ridiculously out of hand.
In recent months, we’ve seen a rash of lopsided victories, mostly at the high school level.
The most notable of these blowouts was a well-publicized girls’ basketball game in Dallas that ended in a 100-0 final score. The fallout from that game resulted in the winning team firing its coach, and the losing team cutting its basketball program.
Both schools suffered severe repercussions from the outcome of that contest, and both teams were arguably hurt, in some way, by the end result.
In instances such as these, it is easy to blame the winning team for unfair play. True, in many cases the winners do run up the score to insurmountable levels, but what about the losers?
Nearly everyone who has grown up playing or watching sports has either witnessed or been a part of a lopsided victory.
In extreme cases, the losing team is often so overmatched that they have no business taking the field or court in the first place.
And that’s where the blame needs to be shared. Society requires a “good guy” and a “bad guy” to make sense of most stories, but in a large number of these blowouts there are no villains and no heroes.
If one team possesses a greater level of talent and skill than their opponent, in no way should the better team be obligated to “play down” to the competition or sacrifice their own progress.
On the other hand, if a team is so greatly overmatched that they aren’t able to compete with any team in their league or division, they really have no business disrespecting the game by showing up in the first place.
Think of it this way. Imagine you’re driving on a two-lane highway and the speed limit is 50 miles per hour. You’re cruising at a speed limit pace, when suddenly you come upon a little old lady going 30 mph. You can’t get around her. You honk, to no avail. You try and pass her, but your attempts are cut off by oncoming traffic.
Ultimately, you are relegated to two choices: 1) break the law by doing something foolish (such as ramming this woman off the road) or 2) sit behind her and go 30 the rest of the way. No matter what choice you make, you can’t win.
That’s what it’s like to be the better team in these blowouts. You cannot truly win and that’s unfortunate.
It’s not fair to the teams that actually possess skill and talent (something we try and teach to all players) to have to make a lose-lose decision when faced with an inferior opponent.
Likewise, it’s not fair to the inferior opponent to have to get shellacked every time they put on their uniform. There’s a reason we have recreational leagues across America, and it’s for teams that simply cannot compete at a high level.
The EKU-KSU baseball game is no exception to the rule. From all accounts, EKU did their best to minimize the bleeding in their win. Similarly, KSU players and coaches placed blame on no one but themselves for their poor showing.
So while we may have the urge to typecast a victim and condemn a villain, let’s avoid it. There are no winners here, and it’s not up to us to perpetuate that.
We’ll just chalk this up to a bad day at the office and move on. One team outscores the other, and the game is done.
Ultimately, this is quite simply the reality of competition, and the nature of sports.