Micah Grimes, former head coach of the Covenant School girls basketball team in Dallas, was fired Sunday.
His charge? Winning a game by too much and failing to apologize for doing so.
With Grimes at the helm, Covenant defeated Dallas Academy 100-0 on Jan. 13. Over the past two weeks, the winning school has presented the result to be embarrassing and the losing coach has found a silver lining in the defeat.
While it would be natural to be embarrassed after losing by such a margin, it seems odd the team that won the game would feel any regret over the outcome. It’s even more surprising to see the coach on the losing end maintain that his team learned a lot from the loss.
Nevertheless, the head of Covenant School, Kyle Queal, posted an apology on the school’s website:
“The Covenant School, its board and administrators, regrets the incident of January 13 and the outcome of the game with the Dallas Academy Varsity Girls Basketball team. It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened.? This clearly does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition.”
The last line is particularly interesting.
According to Queal, a Christ-like approach would not “run up the score for any reason.” It is also true, however, in looking at the text of the Bible that Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
Is it not fair to argue the girls of the Covenant School should play to the best of their ability regardless of the score? Is it not also true that the point of high school basketball is to learn and develop the skills associated with the sport?
The players from both schools could learn abundantly more about the game of basketball by playing hard the entire game than they would if Covenant had stopped running its offense after taking a 59-0 lead at halftime.
Firing Grimes makes no sense based on his accomplishments.
Grimes has done nothing but improve the girls’ basketball program at the Covenant School since arriving as head coach in 2005. In Grimes’ first season, the team went 2-19, including a similarly embarrassing 82-6 loss, but last season they managed to reach the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
Not only is Grimes an excellent coach judging by his record, the numbers from the game against Dallas Academy show that he did not intend to embarrass his opponent.
After scoring 35 first quarter points, Covenant posted just 24 in the second quarter. Grimes’ squad went on to score 29 in the third quarter but put up just 14 in the fourth while trying to slow the game down and run down the clock.
In addition to scoring less, Grimes adds that Covenant stopped applying full-court pressure on defense after going up 25-0 just three minutes into the game. Grimes also noted in his post that he dropped his defense into a 2-3 zone and began to rotate his three bench players into the game to allow “the Dallas Academy players to get the ball up the court for a chance to score.”
Grimes has proven he knows how to build a strong basketball program, and teams don’t get better by sitting their best players three minutes into the game and holding onto the ball for minutes at a time. He did what he thought was right — allowing his team to continue to score while slowing the pace of the game — and his team still came away with a lopsided result.
Grimes also notes his team is not exactly an “elite basketball powerhouse.” According to his recent post on the Flight Basketball website, his team occasionally plays games with only five or six players due to its small bench and has even had to finish a game five-on-four when a player fouled out.
With such a small team, Grimes’ squad doesn’t have the luxury of resting its players during the game, let alone practicing five-on-five without bringing in other players. He clearly knows this and realizes a game against a far inferior opponent is better practice than his team could ever get against each other.
Although they could have let up a bit sooner — perhaps after leading by 59 at the half — the outcome would be equally embarrassing for Dallas Academy, knowing their opponents didn’t play their best for the entire game. Grimes likely reasoned that giving his players the opportunity to improve was a higher priority than the final score of the game.
In the end, Queal and other Covenant school officials gave in to the pressure of the national spotlight, posting an apology on its website as the story gained national attention.
Grimes, on the other hand, stood by his decision to let his girls score 100 points and as he puts it, enabled himself to walk away with his integrity.
Now, with Grimes cut loose, the story has an added ironic twist: Covenant has forfeited the 100-point shutout victory, erasing the game from its record books forever.
Jordan is a junior majoring in journalism and political science. Think Covenant was right in firing Micah Grimes? Jordan can be reached at [email protected]