Does high school basketball need a 'mercy rule'?

MAPLETON, Ore. - Athletes and coaches say basketball is more than a game.

There are life lessons learned on the court.

"This is an opportunity to work on these parts of the game," said Aaron Longo, athletic director at Mapleton High School. "This is an opportunity to overcome something bigger than yourself."

But what lessons are being taught when teams win by more than 60 points?

"It's hard for me to spin that to a kid," Longo said. "It's hard for me to say, 'It's OK to be beat by 90."

Oregon has a "mercy rule" for high school football, baseball and soccer, but not basketball.

"We all know it's an issue. It's becoming a nationwide issue," Mapleton Superintendent Jodi O'Mara said. "Sometimes it's hard when you look at a score disparity and you're like wow, that is so unsportsmanlike, how could you do that to a team? But again, it's more than just the score. It's how the game was played."

Michelle Holman, the Mapleton School District's board chair, wrote a letter to The (Eugene) Register-Guard outlining the board's outrage with lopside scores in girls basketball games.

It's an issue at the heart of the student-athlete experience.

"Winning with class and losing with dignity," Longo said. "Those are the two lines the OSAA has been pushing for a long time."

And it's an issue with no immediate solution.

"There's so many pros and cons and unintended consquences when you institute a flat rule of 'this score, you're done,'" O'Mara said.