Oh Those Poor, Pitiable Souls

I, for one, have had about enough of the media’s debate over whether the New England Patriots annihilation of inferior opponents falls within society’s definition of sportsmanship. Of course it does. The New England Patriots are everything I wish my favorite teams to be: excellent, relentless, precise and consistent. These things come about only as a result of coaches insisting upon the same standard all the time. Anytime in which that standard goes unmet, you are failing.

If Bill Belichick were to take any other mindset he would be allowing his team to fail sometimes. If standards are relaxed when the point margin reaches, say, 3 touchdowns, you are psychologically allowing your team to relax it’s standards under certain circumstances. Perhaps you can get away with this. But if the improbable happens and one of New England’s opponents mounts a quick comeback, the Patriots could be in trouble. We have all seen scenarios in which one team is seemingly in complete control of a game, only to relax and watch their margin slowly dissolve. Then, once the game is competitive again, they have a difficult time regaining the same form they began the game with. The only way to eliminate these scenarios is to strictly insist upon a standard of excellence and maintain it in all circumstances.

Some consider this unsportsmanlike, but I disagree completely. Outscoring your opponents is the objective of sport, and there are no margins in which it becomes unsportsmanlike. As long as you are playing within the framework of the game anything goes. Taunting, excessively celebrating, dirty play and giving up are unsportsmanlike. Dominating an opponent is achieving excellence.

You may not like to see the Patriots go for it on 4th down up big in the 4th quarter, but it serves a purpose. Having the luxury of being able to execute 4th down plays in real game situations with minimal risk is a privilege not to be forsaken by those with championship ambitions. There may come a time in which there is a 4th down call of greater consequence. If those opportunities to experiment during decided games produce any information useful at a later date it is a fool who passes them by.


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