We saw an interesting note earlier today from the Norwich Bulletin that the state of Connecticut has a rule that discourages coaches from winning by a 50 point margin.
The rule, which has been in place since 2006 and has evolved over the past few years, states that any victory by 50 or more points is automatically reviewed by a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference panel, and the head coach is subject to a one game suspension if they rule that he acted in an unsportsmanlike manner.
In two recent instances, the CIAC has not even needed to get involved because the head coach, or schools themselves, self imposed a suspension. The most recent of those cases include Norwich Free Academy, whose head coach, Jemal Davis agreed to step down for a game following a 51-0 win.
Immediately following the victory, Davis said that he thought about his next step.
“Directly after the game in terms of the score, I contemplated what would be the next step We felt as a staff, as an athletic department, as a school, that what would be appropriate in this manner is to follow the letter of the law in terms of penalty and move on, and so that’s where we are."
Davis used his suspension as a teaching moment for his team.
“Based on our score, 51-0, we didn’t demonstrate score management, and therefore we are liable for those actions. I explained to the guys that we respect and honor the CIAC and its policies and because of that we felt it was important to self-impose the penalty" Davis said, adding that it wouldn't be appropriate to drag out an appeals process when it was clear to him that they could have done more in dealing with the situation.
"I wanted to ensure the kids that they did everything in their power appropriately, however, because the score became, 51-0, we need to re-evaluate as a coaching staff and me personally, what could I have done differently?”
It takes a coach who is pretty comfortable with himself to step back and instead of pointing fingers, to look inward and make that type of evaluation.
Whether you agree with the rule or not, it's hard to argue the with a classy move by coach Davis to first step down for a game on his own, and then reflect on that moment and use it as a life lesson for high school aged kids.