Rick Reilly Worships Losing

Rick Reilly, where is your chin?
Rick Reilly, where is your chin?

One of ESPN’s star writers wrote an article recently harshly criticizing Coach Greg Wise of Houston Texas’s Yate’s High School basketball team.

What crime has Coach Greg Wise committed? Has he physically assaulted one of his players (as major college coaches have done)? Has he had inappropriate sexual relations with players or students? Has his players been arrested for drug abuse or committed other crimes?


Coach Greg Wise’s players have committed the ultimate sin in Rick Reilly’s book: winning.

“What?!” you ask.  “Isn’t the goal of playing in a sporting event like basketball to win?”

Well, yes.  But apparently there is a fine line between winning and winning big. Rick Reilly is very opposed to teams winning by what he considers a fair margin.  I’m not sure he knows what a fair margin is… do you draw the line at 20, 30, 40?

The Yate’s High School basketball team is currently ranked #1 in the country and plays their hearts out in each and every contest.  Sporting events are meant to teach young people discipline, hard work and how to compete.  The boys on the Yate’s basketball team took those lessons to heart and dominate the basketball court, winning by 135, 115, 99, 98 & 90.

Coach Wise’s teams win big and may humiliate their opponents.  That clearly is not their intention though as every player on the team gets playing time in every game.  The team is just that much better than their opposition.

So what should Coach Wise do?

According to Rick Reilly, he should tell his players not to play hard, to be lazy and let the other team score on them and not work to score baskets of their own.  Rick Reilly wants Coach Wise to teach his players to be cowards.  Rick Reilly does not truly believe in the sports adage that you should always compete with your best self.

Instead of ripping into Coach Wise, Rick Reilly should heap accolades on him for training this group of young men to work so hard and be so successful.

To conclude his asinine article, Rick Reilly said the following:

And I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes for the national record of 211. If he gets it, I hope they add an *:

*Set by Yates High School, Classless of 2010.

If Rick Reilly truly believes the vomit he spouts, he should request that ESPN put an asterisk next to his name on every one of his articles:

*Rick Reilly, founder of the cult of losing/winning by small (but fair!) margins

Published by

Joel Gross

Joel Gross is the CEO of Coalition Technologies.

12 thoughts on “Rick Reilly Worships Losing”

  1. Fouling to stop the clock, just so they can rack up points? If you don’t see why beating a team by 135 is wrong, you are a fool. Rick Reilly isn’t promoting losing or playing with lack of heart. He is promoting sportsmanship. If he puts the scrubs in and they play well, I see no problem with them winning by a huge margin. They can win by 100 points and I have no problem with that. But fouling to stop the clock just so his team can score more points–that is disgusting.

    “Rick Reilly wants Coach Wise to teach his players to be cowards.”

    Do you think before you write this fecal material. Since when is being a good sport equal to being a coward. In fact I believe the opposite to be true. Did you ever see the clip of the running back in the NFL (I forget who) purposely falling on the one yard line because he knew the game was over at that point. That is class pure and simple. Is he a coward. Hell no.

  2. “Idiot”,

    Did you know the NFL running back who put a knee down at the one yard line did so not out of some silly idea about running up the score, but to guarantee that his team won? If he had scored a touchdown, the other team would have had enough time on the clock to score a touchdown themselves and either kick a PAT to tie the game or go for two to win it.

    I agree that fouling to stop the clock is a bit out of bounds, but what is the point of competing if you don’t bring your best? Is the phrase “play against your best self” only meant for losing teams and teams that win by smaller margins?

  3. As long as it is being done without obnoxious attitude, but is rather a matter of this coach pushing his athletes to turn in the very best performance possible in a league where the opponents are mostly very weak, I’m all in favor of this coach’s approach. His disciples won’t always be facing such weak opponents and need to practice for the day they are in a more challenging match, and besides, a dose of real-world Darwinism can be very healthy for both the winners and the losers – at any age level.

    Actually, I find it a rather horrific thought that any team would NOT strive to do their very best, just in order to spare hurt feelings on the part of the losing team. If I were on the losing team, I would see that as condescension, and if anything more humiliating than a loss by a wide margin. Have we as a society really become so emotionally fragile as to require that sort of approach? Too many years of youth games played with no scoring so that “everybody wins”?

  4. David,

    Having an opponent purposely play poorly after dominating my team early in the game would be offensive. It adds insult to the injury of the loss. If the other team plays hard the whole game and beats me, I can look at it and say, “Okay we both played our best and they just are physically superior and have practiced much more”. If the other teams racks up a big victory margin, then starts to play poorly on purpose it makes me think “They don’t respect my game. They are acting like they are playing against their girlfriend.” I would be very annoyed by that.

    I think that most of Coach Greg Wise’s opponents would prefer to have Yates’s High School play hard the whole game than have their hard work in practice insulted by having a team treat them like inferiors instead of equals. They may have inferior talent, but they still want to be treated like equals on the basketball court or they wouldn’t have stepped onto it.

    Sports are supposed to teach life lessons and it is better to learn on a basketball court that you sometimes are far outmatched and how to deal with it than in real life. Schools trying to baby students these days do them no favors at it leaves them ill-equipped to deal with tough times, losing and problems later in life.


  5. There’s a difference between “playing your best” and humiliating opponents. Duke could have easily beaten UNC by 50 last week in Durham, but Coach K started spreading the floor and working the clock with 10 minutes left. Does that make him a loser?

    It troubles me that anyone would find beating lesser opponents by 100 on a regular basis defensible.

  6. New Bernianite,

    Everyone who is ripping into Coach Greg Wise for how he has taught his player to play is at best guilty of hypocrisy. Coach Wise has trained his kids well and taught them many important principles (the benefit of hard work, to do your best no matter what the situation, and how to stay out of trouble).

    The kids on opposing teams have a lot of courage to step onto a court with a team that they know will blow them away and treating them like they can’t handle losing or shouldn’t even be on the court is spitting in their faces.


  7. are you serious?
    First of all, you can’t just make absurd assumptions and say that Rick Reilly promotes losing. You obviously cannot read, nor do you understand the message he is trying to convey. These are 14-18 year old kids. Why do you want their family and friends to see them get humiliated. Theres a point in the game when you know it is pretty much wrapped up and take your foot off the gas. Can’t you see why this never happens on a national stage? If Duke was full court pressing Central Arkansas with 5 minutes to go and up by 50 then proceed to foul to stop the clock, then Coach K would be condemned on a worldwide scale! This is even worse because these are younger, more emotionally fragile athletes.

    You are a fool

  8. I AGREE with this column and have stuck with Yates this season. I’m from New Orleans and have seen many lopsided victories, but NEVER have seen these teams get scolded the way Yates(a black school from a bad neighborhood in Houston) is being scolded. I think that racism has a BIG part to play in this. When Evangel High in Shreveport was beating teams in football 82-0, 75-6 etc I didnt see any national press DOWNING how they win, when the best high school football team of the 90s and former Nation #1 De La Salle(Concord,Ca) was clearly demolishing teams by 40 and 50 points EVERY game no one called them out.. LETS THESE KIDS PLAY THEIR GAME!!! You are taking the only thing positive away from them in life!! Most of these kids come from the nearby Cuney Homes Projects(one of the worst in Houston) What else do they have to look up to?!?

  9. Dude, an 82-point lead in football is like a 28-point lead in basketball. Great, just great that someone criticizes this narcissistic coach of boys — not men; boys — and you call it racism. Way to go. There’s a prize for you at the door.

    One side question: Why are these teams on Yates’ schedule? If they’re constantly playing in this many extreme blowouts, then shouldn’t they find a more evenly matched competition?

    There is nothing to be gained by beating a team by 100 points. It doesn’t show anything positive about these kids — and I don’t care where they’re from — and in fact it probably paints them unfairly in a negative light simply because they’re carrying out their man-child coach’s sinister orders.

    All this … and I am by no means a Rick Reilly fan. But he’s right on this one. We go way too far with sports worship here, and when it reaches the abyss of a high school coach staging a twisted carnival so he can see his name in some record books … well then, yay. Way to go Yates. Real great life lessons being taught.

  10. No hypocrisy here. I’m a parent of a 9 year old athlete. He plays everything. I can say with all confidence that I would not want to see him on either side of a 100 point beating on the basketball court.

    And it’s awesome Coach Wise teaches all these qualities to his kids, but if I’m playing for him I’d be a little fearful of my safety late in a game, as it’s all to easy to get your legs taken out from under you on a rebound or a breakaway by a frustrated opponent.

    DJ, comparisons to football powers are tough to make. In football when you are up big you just start running it up the middle, and if the other team can’t stop you then so be it. But you don’t kick field goals and you don’t keep airing it out when you are up by 35 in the 4th quarter.

  11. An embarrassing post, mostly because you missed the point of Reilly’s article. This has nothing to do with winning. It has to do with sportsmanship. When you’re up by 100, you don’t press. When you’re up 88 at halftime, you don’t trap. It has nothing to do with being lazy, or with letting an opponent score on you, or with being (the most ridiculous comment of your post) cowardly–it has to do the common decency and courtesy that exists between athletes. Real sportsmen understand that. The objective of any sport is not just to win, but to win honorably. That’s the higher lesson that Wise isn’t teaching these kids.

  12. In response to Rick Reilly’s ESPN article entitled “World Cup Buzz Kills.” If you don’t understand the game of soccer, then just admit it, and stop giving Americans the reputation of “soccer idiots” around the world. Speaking of that, the best sign I’ve seen so far at this world cup was held by an American and it said, “Where’s the quarterback” at least we jest.

    Reilly had 10 “buzz kills” he addressed, and so I shall make a rebuttal list in an effort to prove that a typical American fan is not as stupid as Reilly.

    1. The Vuvuzelas. Not part of soccer, I could take them or leave them myself, but as far as being an interruption to watching the games on TV — just not the case. I’m a bit bummed that they interrupt the player’s communication on the field, as I’ve seen several players behave as if they didn’t know a man was on, when undoubtedly their mates are screaming, “MAN ON!”

    2. The Bibs Subs Wear. If Reilly knew anything about soccer, he’d know, even at the college and youth high competition levels, players warming up to go in (see Rick, soccer players warm up to go into the game because they’re not subbed out the next play like football or basketball) are permitted to jog the sidelines. Soccer is so fast paced, and players are rewarded for having great vision (peripheral and anticipatory), so if they see a team jersey hugging the side line, they’re likely to pass it there. I guess we could paint a thick white line on the side, like the NFL where 4x the amount of players on the field are observing the game from the sidelines. Or perhaps we could have the soccer subs where snazzy button off pants, like NBA players, so that when they come off the bench, they resemble a stripper about to make money. The bibs serve a purpose Rielly, and what’s wrong with working the luggage line for an airline?

    3. Twinkie Fingered Goalie Gloves. I don’t even know what to say Reilly. Goalies generally wear shin guards, slide pants (that have padded hips, butt and thigh) and gloves. Players wear shin guards only. Professional soccer players can shoot the ball over 100 m.p.h. Reilly, stand in the 24’x8′ goal and see if you want LESS protection.

    4. Vuvuzelas (again). Rick, you’re #1 and #4 whining complaints are the same. Yes, the soccer fan songs are charming. But you also chose to take a dig at the final scores of matches in this paragraph, so I will say to you what i say to all people who don’t seem to understand soccer, but can’t admit it so complain about the low scores. But don’t worry, I won’t be a soccer geek and drone on about the beauty of each play, how a pass in front of a player as opposed to behind them changes how the attack unfolds. I won’t go into the fact that television only shows part of the game, and how the players moving off the ball are just as important in creating space for attackers to run into. I won’t trouble you with explanations of an overlapping run, a dumby fake, or a puskas because i know it’s wasted on someone who (and here’s the money line) would be happier if each goal counted as 6 points then a penalty shot was taken for the seventh point. Come on, if you’re a longtime fan of the NFL, you’ve sat through plenty of 14-0 football games. Would it make you happier if each goal counted for more points?

    5. All the Faking. Yes, I agree with you. I’m sick of players going down easy. I’m sick of wondering what Cristiano Ronaldo could have done had he not taken a dive. I’m sick of the referees not calling fouls, so the players over exaggerating everything, and I’m sick of how this aspect of the game seems to be one of the ONLY two things American sports seem to be incorporating into their games. For example, I sure did see a lot of faking going on in the NBA this season. The second calamity is the excessive celebration, but in the NFL it seems to be after every damn play. Like i want to watch men in tights dance.

    6. The Yellow Card. Well Reilly, again, you’re just screaming, “look at me, i don’t understand the game.” You compare the yellow card to a 3rd grade punishment, then go on to ask how it would work in the NBA. Let’s address your initial whimpsical (sp?) notion that the punishment is childish. A cautionary yellow is given most often when a defending player attacks from behind. The reason for this is that serious knee injury, like ACL tears, most often happen from this type of aggressive take down. While one player lays on the ground in pain, possibly bleeding, possibly in need of surgery, I’m sure what one of the world’s oldest sports had in mind was, “let’s put a frowney face after their name.” Don’t be a jackass Reilly, two yellows and you’re ejected from the game before you seriously hurt someone. Now, if the NBA had the balls to institute such a rule to their pre-madonna superstars, then I’d say it would be all for the better. How many fouls does a player get before they’re ejected from an NBA game? Oh yeah, five.

    7. Ties. Well you can’t get more American than to complain about ties. There HAS to be a winner and a loser. Well in this case, there is a whiner and a loser and i think they’re one in the same. You’re hurting the game by complaining about what is essentially something brilliant. On this given day, at this given time, these two clubs played an even match. It could be the worlds best against the worlds worst and on that particular day, they were even. What’s wrong with that? Where is the fault in that? It’s just so typically American to need to have a winner because Americans can’t see the larger picture. We’re so focused on the battle we forget about the war, yet we’re the ones always wanting to “get even.” It’s okay Rick, they’ll meet again, with different players, on a different day, in a different stadium, and history will write a new chapter. I’m sorry you were raised with the need to always have a winner, and thus a loser. I’m sorry those damn kids on that playground so many years ago wouldn’t let you play their reindeer games. It’s okay Rick, you’re safe now, deep down you know you’re a winner, so embrace that, breathe, and repeat the following three times, “it’s okay to tie a game.”

    8. The World Cup (trophy). You’ve done it Reilly! You’ve insulted the very symbol of the World Cup! You’ve managed to grow donkey ears and a tail by saying that the tangible symbol of the world coming together for a peaceful competition is ugly. It could look like a giant turd for all I care, where else will you find 32 nations coming together for one month of competitive sports? The Olympics you say? But we’re good at that, so don’t criticize it…. well the summer games anyway. Look, the World Cup trophy is solid 18 carat gold and has people facing outward holding up the world. All nations with a soccer team have a fair shake at making it to the final round of 32 (except Ireland apparently), then after years of qualifiers, a month long battle of surviving the groups and dodging single elimination, one nation emerges with a soccer team superior to all others, and you want to insult the prize they receive. What a weenie.

    9. Stoppage Time. Heavy sigh, and here I go. Reilly, the clock never stops. Unlike the NFL where we stop play every 7 seconds to “make a new plan in a neat little huddle” these marathon running athletes don’t get time outs and unlimited substitutes. They don’t get commercial breaks, rest while the offensive team is in, or the chance to catch their breath while someone takes free throws (ya know, the last 3 minutes of nearly every NBA game which actually lasts 15 minutes). Give me a break, other sports start and stop the clock so that 35% of the time you’re sitting there, the game isn’t even going on. Besides, the referee never stops play when a team is attacking so you’re example of Kaka getting a shot off will still happen. If a team wants to waste time they will. Or maybe now you ARE partial to injury time now that the US scored during it, and earned a birth into the second round because of it?

    10. Vuvuzelas (again again). You obviously don’t have a great grasp of soccer, and you’re clearly not a true fan, so why are you writing about it? Come on Rick, join the rest of the world and learn how to appreciate the beautiful game. Watch a player give the ball then sprint 50 yards diagonal to receive a long ball from his team mate who just megged his opponent. Now watch how his first touch softly brings it back to earth in exactly the right place so that his second touch can be a finesse chip onto the head of a midfielder who just sprinted 60 yards down field in anticipation of his team mates long give and go. He leaps in the air pulls his chin to his chest then strikes the ball with his forehead – thrusting his neck out with such force that a diving goalie, parallel to the ground, cannot reach it as it crashes into the side of the net. But these few seconds only developed because of all the play that happened prior to it. Get it? No one stopped to call a huddle. No one got to use their hands. No one sent in a specialist. No one did a dance because they received a pass. No one ran out and wiped sweat off the ground. No one called timeout. No one went to a commercial. And no one thought it was easy. Tell me you can appreciate that Rick, and if not, then simply say so, and stop criticizing trivial things (like goalie gloves) and just enjoy the world cup for what it is – NO ONE THING. It’s ALL of it Rick, every pass, every run, every player, every juke, EVERYTHING and EVERYONE participating! Enjoy it, and try not to get distracted by what the subs are wearing – really, who cares?

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