Prof. Doug Abrams recently appeared as the guest on “The Sports Edge,” the weekly youth sports show on WFAN-New York, one of the nation’s leading all-sports radio stations. He and host Rick Wolff discussed so-called “Mercy Rules,” which suspend or end games when scores become lopsided.
Prof. Abrams supports Mercy Rules that “help promote player safety in contact and collision sports. When one football team trounces another by 50 points, for example, significant size and weight disparities likely helped explain the outcome. These disparities can also increase risk of serious injury to the members of the outclassed team. Last November, an Arizona high school football player died from a traumatic brain injury suffered in the fourth quarter of a first-round playoff game that his team lost, 60-6.”
Prof. Abrams does not support Mercy Rules that seek to protect the underdog team from the embarrassment of a lopsided score. “Kids can absorb tough defeats with proper support and guidance from their parents and coaches, and ending games prematurely can be as embarrassing as the scores themselves. In the absence of genuine safety concerns, I would prefer to trust coaches of both teams to manage the situation and use the games as learning opportunities. At least in my experience, most youth coaches do not betray that trust.”