Bloomington’s Blowout Raises Questions About Mercy Rule

Bloomington High School South's girls basketball team beat Indianapolis Arlington 107-2 in Tuesday's game.

spalding basketball

Photo: Fuzzy Images (Flickr)

The coach of Bloomington High School South says he gave all his players equal playing time during the game.

Athletics Department officials at Bloomington High School South are standing behind the results of Tuesday’s night 107-2 girls basketball victory over Indianapolis’ Arlington High School.

Bloomington South Athletic Director J.R. Holmes declined to be interviewed, but he said in a press release the school regrets “any unintended consequences that may have resulted from this competition.”

Indiana High School Athletic Association spokesman Chris Kaufman says the score differential may cause the IHSAA to consider rule changes to prevent future lopsided games.

“It’s something we will look into and it may force us to look at some mercy-rule for the future.” Kaufman says

But Kaufman says the IHSAA cannot ensure mismatched teams do not play since schools make up their own schedules by agreeing to games with other institutions.

“I don’t think you can make a hard and fast rule and try to determine who is good and  not good and try to match up team to play those kind teams, I don’t think that’s possible nor would we ever set out to do such a  thing” Kaufman says.

He says a possible solution in basketball would be to run the clock when differential game gets out of reach for the trailing team. Kaufman says the IHSAA Assistant Commissioner for basketball Sandra Walter is in conversation with the schools and plans to hear from both sides what transpired to create the 105-point blowout.

The Arlington High School athletic director says a state takeover of the school is part of the reason for the loss. Arlington High School’s enrollment has dropped from 1,500 students to about 200 after it was taken over the state because of poor performance. It is now managed by the nonprofit group EdPower.

“Here we are now, essentially the size of a 1-A school, with a lot of girls who may not have any type basketball experience at all,” says Arlington High School Athletic Director Bob Wonnell.

He says he expects enrollment numbers to improve, along with the athletic program in the future, but for now the school should take another look at its sports schedule to determine whether playing larger school such as Bloomington South is beneficial.

Arlington High School coach Ebony Jackson and Indianapolis Public Schools declined to comment.

Network Indiana contributed to this report.

  • Ken Pimple

    When it’s clear that a game is going to be humiliating, why not stop it at the end of the quarter (or inning, or whatever), declare a winner, and then mix the two teams together to make a reasonably matched pairing. Then they could finish the game and have some fun in the spirit of sport, and the audience won’t be deprived of the whole show.

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