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Should the NCAA Implement a Mercy Rule?

 As many SuperFans know, the Boston College men's hockey team won 11-0 over Army on Sunday. The Eagles absolutely dominated the rink and even scored when they were a man down due to a penalty. The difference in talent between a top 10 team and a team that only had seven wins out of 34 games last year was easy to see.

However, towards the end of the game it was hard to watch for many Boston College fans. A throng of SuperFans filed out of Conte Forum with each extension of the Eagles' lead, and each tick of the clock. The game was getting boring, despite the high number of goals being scored. Students came for a good game, not a show of one team’s inferiority.

A mercy rule would have freed Army from the dominant display of BC’s talent. Many people are now wondering, should the peewee league tradition of a mercy rule be implemented at the collegiate level?

Against the Mercy Rule – Carson Truesdell

 The whole point of playing sports, at least the type with balls, is to score points. Why should this be stopped prematurely? Few fans enjoy a low-scoring game. Goals, touchdowns and points are what fans enjoy because that is the only way for their team to win. Scoring points is a means to an end and it should not be interfered with.

 Famous Jameis Winston, the Florida State quarterback who has torn up some of the best teams in the nation, is a Heisman contender because of his ability to get the ball to the end zone. With Florida State regularly winning games by at least 50 points, a mercy rule could have ended the scoring frenzy early. But if there was a mercy rule, how would that affect his stats, his Heisman trophy odds, Florida State’s ranking and the assessment of the other team’s ability?

Some people would argue that with a huge disparity in talent, neither team is benefiting. The winning team isn’t getting challenged and the losing team isn’t getting better because the imbalance of talent is too immense to be helpful. However, the confidence the winning team receives from a blowout win empowers them for the next game. This mental boost is enough to make up for the absence of a difficult match-up. Additionally, a huge loss would motivate the losing team to work harder and become a better team. Both teams profit from the game all the way to the final buzzer.

Finally, at what point level would a game be classified as a mercy? At what time in the game would a mercy be implemented? We have all seen teams come back from huge deficits. The chance for a team to rebound and win should never be tinkered with. The most rewarding wins are the ones that were thought to be impossible. A mercy rule would eliminate that opportunity.

Letting the game go on benefits both teams, and as a result, a mercy should never be implemented in sports.

For the Mercy Rule – Bill Stoll

Week 4 of this year’s NCAA Division 1 football schedule saw two of the most lopsided victories in recent memory.  The first game featured Ohio State, then ranked No. 4 in the nation, taking on Florida A&M, a lowly FCS team. Ohio State went on to win 76-0.  The second was then seventh-ranked Louisville against Florida International University, a Conference USA opponent whose record currently stands at 1-8. FIU fared better than their Floridian counterpart in Florida A&M, as FIU was able to hold on for a 72-0 defeat.

After games such as this, including the BC men's hockey trouncing of Army 11-0 which occurred this past weekend, you have to ask yourself when enough is finally enough. Embarrassments such as these occur almost weekly in college athletics, and it’s time for the NCAA to step up and finally do something that is morally commendable. It is time for a mercy rule in college sports.

 But Bill, this is sports; the pros don’t have a mercy rule. Heck, even high schools don’t have a mercy rule. Why should college get a mercy rule when 14-year-olds don’t? Simple: the disparity in athletics is at its absolute greatest at the collegiate level. Unlike in high school, when teams are mostly playing their in-state or league rivals, the difference between a top-25 FBS football team and a middle-of the pack FCS team is astounding.

The top-tier NCAA programs are able to recruit the very best athletes in the country, regardless of the sport, and provide them with the best training money can buy. I think we saw with the Grambling State debacle earlier this season that FCS teams cannot do the same. Sure, professional sports don’t have a mercy rule, but this is the highest level of athletics, and these players get paid to put their bodies on the line. Pay-for-play debates aside, athletes at lesser programs are simply not able to compete.

What this comes down to is athletic directors and presidents of lower-tier schools caught with dollar signs in their eyes, and they are willing to sacrifice their players’ well-beings in order to snatch the fat paycheck that playing an Alabama or an Ohio State provides.

Look at the stats. Against Louisville, FIU had 34 rushing attempts. Their total rushing yards? Zero. What this points to is complete and total physical domination of bigger, stronger athletes over much weaker ones. It’s not safe for the players, and sooner or later, a game like this will involve some very serious injuries for the lesser team.

A mercy rule, say a 40-point deficit at halftime, or if the game reaches a 50-point deficit at any time, would allow the players to pack up and leave the field safely, without the need to risk their bodies any further. I’m sure the big schools would be okay with this as well, as no team wants a key back-up, or any player for that matter, to blow out an ACL when they are up 63 points in a meaningless game.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the underdog story as much as the next guy. I was cheering on Appalachian State against Michigan along with everyone else (save Michigan fans). The best part is, a mercy rule wouldn’t eliminate this. All a mercy rule would do is keep a game that is completely out of hand from continuing meaninglessly at the risk of all the players involved.

Written by Carson Truesdell/Gavel Media Staff and Bill Stoll/Assoc. Sports Editor.

Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.

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