Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Running Up the Score," A #Middlegrade Short Story

Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

“Hi, Tess, how was your basketball game?” Her brother Rick asked.


“Who won?”

“We did, 32-15,”

“Wow! You really creamed them.”

“I guess.”

“What’s the matter?” Rick thought she should be happier about the win. Tess was one of the best players on her middle-school team, and they had played a team from a rival town.

“I only played about half the game.”

“Were you injured?”

“No. The coach let the substitutes play a lot. We were way ahead.”

“That’s too bad for you, but good for the subs. It showed mercy on the other team, too. They seem to have been losing badly. The score would have been much worse if the first-string played the whole game.”

“I know, Rick, but I like to play, and it seems we are punished for being too good.”

“Understood, but the subs are almost as good, and they come to practices just like you ‘stars,’ and maybe the subs help you get better by practicing against them.”


“I sympathize with the subs, “ Rick added, “ because I was one for my whole high school basketball career. Got to play only when we were way ahead or way behind. I understood why, but I wished it were different.”

“Coach said she does not like to run up the score on our opponents.”

“She means you should do enough to be sure to win, but not so much as to humiliate your opponents. If you’ve been on losing teams, and I have, you know that a lop-sided score, even if gotten fairly, is a smack in the face. It may make you practice harder or it may just discourage you. If you haven’t got the talent, practice may only help a bit.”

“Does that mean I shouldn’t try to get A’s in all my courses because the other kids don’t?”

“No. Do your best. Your career may depend on it. Anyway, your grades are really none of the other kids’ business. We’re happy to see you ‘run up the score’ in all your courses!”

And so she did.


One of fifty short stores we wrote, illustrating principles with which we agree.

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