How Do You Win (Or Lose) 91-0 and Keep Your Class and Dignity?

Naples High beat Estero High 91-0 in a high school football game in Florida. Naples had a 70-0 lead at halftime and sat most of their starters for the second half.

Naples is the defending Florida 3A champion with players headed off to Division I schools (like Ohio State). Estero is trying to rebuild a program that has fallen on hard times. Of course the 91-0 score has set off some controversy locally.

[Naples High head coach Bill Kramer] looked at the scoreboard late in the game, saw 91-0, and said he felt sick to his stomach. Kramer's team ran only 31 plays and he kept most of his best players on the sideline -- for the entire game in some cases. But still Kramer knew what was coming.

Soon after the game ended, his inbox began filling with angry e-mails, some from Estero parents wondering why so many points were necessary, some from Naples parents wondering why their kids didn't play more in an effort to pad their stats.

This is one of the most delicate subjects in sports. When is it "piling on"?

The coaches and players at Estero aren't mad at all. They knew they were over-matched, intimidated and out-played. Their head coach even stated that Naples High did nothing wrong. Kudos for them for being so classy in defeat.Anyone who has played sports ... especially at the high school level ... knows that there are times where the talent levels are so uneven that these kind of games happen. No one feels good about it.

Coaches teach their players to keep plugging away. Keep attacking. Never be satisfied. You can't blame these teenagers for running up the score like that. That's where the coaches come in to try to find ways to stop it. But how?

That game wasn't even the biggest blowout of the day. An Ohio school had to take a knee for much of the fourth quarter to keep their victory at 96-0. If you were on the losing end of that game, how would you feel to see your opponent stop playing just to keep from scoring more points? To me, that is more embarrassing than losing 119-0.

It's one thing if the team decides to have simple rushing plays to run out the clock, but don't make them quit. The main point of sport is the spirit of the competition, regardless of the score. Sometimes winning isn't always displayed on the scoreboard.

Naples High coach Bill Kramer has nothing to be ashamed of. His team played hard, respected their opponent and won with class. Estero High also played hard, respected their opponent and lost with class.

Estero isn't forgetting this game. They are pointing to it as one of those remember where we came from moments when the program finally turns around. Whenever that is.

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