Did Inglewood Cross the Line with 106 Points?

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“American football on grass”, by Marco Verch, licensed under CC BY 2.0

On Friday, October 29th, the Inglewood High School football team racked up an astonishing 106 points against their rival, Morningside High School. Quarterback Justyn Martin threw for 13 touchdowns, which broke the record for the most touchdowns thrown by a California high school student and the second-most number of touchdowns thrown by a quarterback in high school football history, only behind Cozad High School’s Arthur Smith, who threw for 15 touchdowns in 1921. While impressive, the lopsided game has been the topic of controversy: was it really sportsmanlike for Inglewood High School to run up the score? 

In a statement released on Saturday, October 30, the CIF-Southern Section said, “The CIF Southern Section expects that all athletic contests are to be conducted under the strictest code of good sportsmanship. We expect coaches, players, officials, administrators and students to adhere to the Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. A score of 106-0 does not represent these ideals. The CIF-SS condemns… results such as these. It is our expectation that the Inglewood administration will work towards putting in place an action plan so that an event such as this does not repeat itself.”

Inglewood’s actions were both unsportsmanlike and dangerous for the athletes involved. Not only did Inglewood’s actions possibly compromise the dignity of the players and staff of the other team by running up the score, but they also ran the risk of unnecessarily injuring any of their starting players throughout the course of the game, which could personally affect the athletes themselves and it has the potential of greatly affecting the performance of the team overall. According to a study conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health in 2016, more than 500,000 high school football players are injured every year nationwide. While that may sound like a small number in comparison to the millions of high school football players that play every year, one of those 500,000 kids could have been one of Inglewood’s starters. 

Furthermore, the Inglewood High School football team declined requests from the referees to allow a running clock despite being ahead by more than 35 points, the scenario in which CIF calls for running clocks to begin. While they are not required to accept the proposition of the running clock, it would have been more sportsmanlike of the Inglewood High School football team to allow for the running clock, as it keeps the game moving, thus allowing for the game to end as soon as possible. Because of the prolonged playing time, the players were forced to play for longer, which possibly furthered their exhaustion and increased the risk of injury. 

This is not the first time that Mil’Von James, the coach of the Inglewood High School football team, has found himself in the middle of a controversy. After the 2016 high school football season, James was fired from his previous coaching job at Augustus F. Hawkins High School, where the Los Angeles Unified School District found that there had been over 40 transfers over the past three seasons prior to the 2017 season, and they also discovered that James had allowed for multiple ineligible players to play on his team. 

The type of sportsmanship that Inglewood High School displayed in the football game is not something that should be taught to impressionable up-and-coming high school athletes. While it may be all in good fun, it shows no respect to the other team and endangers the starting players, increasing the risk of injury.