Sportsmanship

A fun fact, on this day in 1916, the Georgia Tech Engineers defeated Cumberland College 222-0 in a college football game. The score has stood for the past one hundred years as the most lopsided victory in college football. I guess the Bulldogs from Cumberland didn’t know how to say “uncle”.

Of particular interest, the coach for Georgia Tech was John Heisman, of Heisman Trophy fame. When we think of the top athletes of the country and the achievements that they must attain to put themselves at the top of the list for the coveted trophy, we must include the willingness to grind their opponent into dust to honor the memory of Heisman. Surely Heisman wanted have wanted that to be in the criteria.

Though he led 126-0 at the half, Heisman is reported to have told his players at halftime, “You’re doing all right, team, we’re ahead. But you just can’t tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves. They may spring a surprise. Be alert, men! Hit ’em clean, but hit ’em hard!”

I’m guessing that Heisman allowed all of his players to play, all the way down to the ball boys. I suspect he could have taken volunteers from the crowd and not effected the outcome of the game.

Supposedly the drubbing was to payback Cumberland for beating Georgia Tech soundly in baseball that year. Whatever the reason, sportsmanship did not appear to be on Heisman’s mind that day.

There is no “mercy rule” in college football. Maybe we should rethink that omission. After all, part of sports is sportsmanship, right? Beating someone 126-0 feels just as good as 222-0, right? Particularly if you can take the second half off and go get a chili dog.

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