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One More Comment On 100 Point Games

Obviously one of the topics du jour has been the two recent 100 point plus
games in high school hoops, one by DaJuan Wagner, and one by a kid in Texas. In
the case of Wagner, as you probably know, his coach and team humiliated a weaker
opponent really for the greater glory of DuJuan.  In the Texas case, the
team, Heritage Christian Academy no less, won by 150 points in order to give
Cedric Hensley a sort of going-away present before he went in for surgery.

So are we inherently against people having offensive explosions? Well, no.
What we definitely find dismaying is the way these two performances unfolded,
and the motivations behind them: in Hensley's case, a good thing, making a kid
feel better before surgery, was outweighed by a bad thing, a deliberate humiliation
of a weaker team.  It's not impressive from a Christian school, either,
since compassion and so forth are to be normally expected. Try to imagine Jesus
rubbing your nose in it after beating the crap out of you in a basketball game
(c'mon, you know He'd kick your ass but good).  Jesus doesn't play hoops,
but we like to think that's the game he'd choose: it requires a certain amount
of humility and subordination.  You'd think the coach at a Christian
academy, of all places, would teach humility and perspective.

In Wagner's case, his coach really had no logical reason to humiliate an
opponent by 90 points. 

Could it ever be justified? Can you ever rationalize telling a player to
score over a hundred points, to beat a team by over 100?  It seems
unlikely, but the world is a big place, and there are a lot of things we can't
understand.  But imagine this situation:

You're a coach in a forgotten town in Appalachia, before Kennedy and Johnson,
before anyone even understood the grinding poverty of the region, let alone did
anything about it.   Your kids are children of miners, and their
future yawns open to a bleak and dark future, a third or more of life spent
underground, black lung building up the whole time.  No one is going to
college. No one is making plans for a life outside this forgotten place. 
They know what their fate is.

And then this idea comes to you,  a way to get a kid of yours enough
attention to maybe get some recruiting attention. Maybe one kid can make it out,
escape the mines and the poverty.  Who knows? Maybe someone else will catch
a scout's eye, too.

You pick the poorest kid on your team, not because he's the poorest, but
because he has such good hands and a quick release, and you wait for a weak
opponent, and you tell your team to give the kid the ball every time even though
he hates the idea, and he scores a hundred and thirty five points. The attention
is generated.  Colleges come around.   The kid gets an
opportunity he would never have gotten otherwise.

It sounds unlikely, but
that's precisely what happened with Danny Heater,
who owns the national high
school single game scoring record.  Obviously, there are parts of this
we're not crazy about,  primarily abusing the other school.  But if we
were the coach there and we had a chance to get a kid a life where he didn't
have to dig holes underground and die young would we have done it? 

Absolutely. There is a higher good involved here, and the pain of a massive
loss doesn't compare to trying to save someone's life, which is what keeping
someone out of the mines amounts to.

As it turned out, the kid didn't make it in college, but he was an
interesting kid, and became an interesting man, and he's made his way in the
world well enough.  In this case, the coach took the tools he had and
sincerely tried to make a difference in a kid's life.  There's a vast
difference in that and inflating DaJuan Wagner's ego and resume, or soothing
Cedric Hensley's (impending) wounds by inflicting wounds on others.  What's
striking here is how differently the adults - the coaches - see their kids, and
the radical differences in how they want to affect their lives.