This is actually not a term we really use in Australia. Nor is it actually a concept in Australian pro sport. I wonder what the cultural difference is?
Here’s an interesting link on Wikipedia about ”running up the score”, and I will quote below an excerpt from it talking specifically about Aussie Rules football:
Running up the score is a common practice in Australian rules football. The only tiebreaker used in most leagues is the percentage of points for versus points against; as such, margins frequently become large. This occurs in all levels of play, particularly in metropolitan and country leagues, where weaker teams can often be beaten by as much as 200 points. Significantly, the sport lacks any obvious means to kill off a match quickly and painlessly, and time-wasting is both unpopular with fans and discouraged by the laws of the game. Junk time is also a key contributing factor. In finals games, where percentage is no longer relevant, teams do occasionally attract criticism for running up the score. The most extreme recorded example of running up the score was theWilliamstown Seagulls' score of 110.27 (687) against Geelong West Roosters in a 1983 VFA Under-19s game.
Now what the heck does this have to do with roller derby, you ask?
Well, it seems to be a bit of a hot topic, even in Australian roller derby.
So let’s look at what Wikipedia says about why teams run up the score and try to look at it in a derby context:
(***Disclaimer: I am talking about Travel Team games specifically here.)
1. To improve the first team players’ game stamina, so they are better prepared for later games, e.g. high school teams that are dominant through regular season, but will face much stronger teams when playing for state championship.
Derby Context: If you want your ”starting” lineups to perform when faced with difficult opponents, they need to have played a full game at the intensity required down the track. If you take the foot off the pedal when facing weaker opposition, you’ll never know what it’s like to really have to bust it out.
2. To demonstrate domination of one’s opponents, and intimidate them and future opponents.
Derby Context: If you can manage to do this prior to the game, it’s already half won. From a technical standpoint as well, teams like London absolutely needed to beat Auld Reekie by the amount they did so they could demonstrate they still deserve a place at Regionals.
3. To demonstrate respect for the opposing team by not easing up.
Derby Context: I feel like this is the most important for our growing community. I hear it said around the traps that teams *should* ease up, but then in the same breath folks talk about newer teams wanting to ”learn” when they play the top teams. So I ask you—-what is a better lesson? Playing a team at it’s best, or playing a team you know has gone easy on you? I know which one I would learn best from!
4. To gain an advantage where play statistics (such as points scored or point differential) are kept and used for professional advancement or as part of a tiebreaking system.
To improve rankings and thus a better placement in a championship picture
Derby Context: As could be seen at TGSS where 2 teams would advance on points differential. Also with no fully scheduled ”season” in WFTDA play where all teams play eachother a certain amount of times, we rely on triangulation of scores, so you really always want to win by the biggest margin possible.
5. To allow the ”first” team to work on unproven/untested plays or allow untested players first team repetitions.
Derby Context: This is key for me. Continuing to run up the score is not about ”humiliation” or trying to embarrass the other team. I’ve never been part of team goal setting for a game where this has been a goal. It has ALWAYS been about doing what we need to do to become a better team. When we played at Dust Devil, we spoke about IF we were ever ahead by a significant margin, if we would then try using our non-primary jammers or rest our top players. We decided we wouldn’t, that we would use the game to perfect our team work so that we felt like an even more solid unit going into the next game—-we decided we should play every game like we would a ”final” against a tough opponent so we could get the rhythm right. I have heard it mentioned that if we had have rested players during the Assassination City game once we were far enough ahead, that we could have possibly beaten Angel City.
I disagree completely. I think it was only due to the growing momentum and having the chance to get it ”right” in the game against Assassination, that we were able to make that comeback against Angel. If our ”starting” lineups hadn’t have had that time together, we would have felt like deer in headlights.
For me, what it boils down to is your team goal setting. What does your team want to get out of the game? Is it an opponent you know you’re definitely going to beat? Maybe you want to give some of your up and coming skaters some track time so you can develop them? Maybe you have a really tough opponent not long after this coming game and you need to iron out some kinks with your ”starting” lineups?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your team’s plan to get a good lead and then ease up (rest players, try different rotations, play your rookies, etc), the important things is that it’s about what YOU need as a team to develop in the way you want to.
I also think that just because you’re ”winning” a game doesn’t mean you’re playing the way you want to. We knew what we wanted to see from our team at TGSS to make us feel confident if we made it to the final. Sure we won against Auckland, but there were quite a few errors we made that we knew we needed to fix if we wanted to take home the Golden Thong. Playing Newcastle, we started to get into the groove, but they definitely tested us in a few areas (THANKS LADIES!), which again we deconstructed and set goals to improve on when we played CRDL. We are extremely critical of ourselves as a team, and therefore it’s not about ”winning” but about ”playing the perfect game”—-for ourselves. Because we want to continually push our own boundaries. My point being, your team’s goals should be about what YOU want to get out of a game.
Is that unfair on your opponent? Unsportsperson-like? I dunno. I would feel more unfair or unsportsy if I dumbed down our team’s game so as not to ”offend” anyone. Just don’t be an arsehole about it :)
P.S: yeah yeah I know there’s another angle here I am not touching on, and that is whether a blow-out is good for fans to watch, but I’m not going near THAT discussion with a 20 foot pole!!!
P.P.S: Auckland just reminded me of something—-I have been on both sides of the fence too. We got beat by Rat City and TXRG’s Hotrod Honeys both by about 140 points—-and it was AMAZING!