Texas should adopt a ‘mercy rule’ for high school soccer


Daniel Grant

Sophomore Katelyn North clears the ball from her defensive third. The Rangers beat Seguin 10-0 on Feb. 24.

Emma Siebold, Editor-in-Chief

Ennis High School boys soccer beat Lancaster 20-0 on Feb.4, and just a couple weeks later, the Amarillo girls soccer team beat Plainview 24-1 in a district match on Feb.17. Twitter took this information into a frenzy of protests about the lack of mercy rules in Texas.

Texas should implement a mercy rule for high school soccer, and games should be stopped after a 10-point goal differential is accomplished.

Other states, such as Arizona and Florida, have rules in place that terminate the game once an eight-goal differential is attained by the end of the first half or at any point during the second half. This issue is not prevalent locally, as nearby 4A. 5A and 6A schools capped their games at no more than 14 goals this season.

Ennis and Amarillo both went too far in their matches. In Ennis’s match against Lancaster, one player had eight goals on his own. Eight other players also scored. Once a team reaches the 5-0 threshold, it should allow bench and junior varsity players to get playing time and have goal-scoring opportunities.

Similarly, Amarillo had multiple players score more than three goals each against Plainview. Other teams in Amarillo beat Plainview by a 8, 10 and 12-point differential, and no one went as far as to put 24 points on them.

Beating teams into the ground defeats the point of the game. The scoreboard decides the match, and if the goal differential is eight or nine, the game has been decided. No team is learning anything about sportsmanship or competition by jogging around the field and scoring on a defeated team.

Opponents of a mercy rule argue that young people need to be “merciless” and always strive to be better. By implementing a mercy rule, the state condones a mentality of losing and giving up. In this sense, teams that can put 24 points on a team learn that hard work produces results.

However, scoring goals just for stats and bragging rights teaches athletes nothing, and only shows their lack of sportsmanship and courtesy. Teams that are defeated by 24 points feel like they have nothing left to play for, and that negatively impacts their mindset for the rest of the season.

The aggressive goal differentials displayed by Ennis and Amarillo characterize soccer as a joke and as a game that isn’t worth playing. Before every game, the referees tell the captains that the game is “an extension of the classroom”, and the players should show each other the same respect and courtesy that they would a classmate. These teams defied that invisible sportsmanship rule and ran Plainview and Lancaster into the dirt.

By implementing a mercy rule, Texas would foster a competitive mindset in athletes and stop outrageous goal differentials in high school soccer.