Liam Day insists that Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor’s 138 point game may break a record, but it also shows a problem of corrupted priorities.
On Tuesday, Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor scored 138 points in an NCAA Division III game against Faith Baptist Bible College, a game Grinnell, unsurprisingly, won 179 – 104. The 138 points are a new college basketball record, Division I, II, or III.
The reaction has been almost universally positive, NBA players registering their awe by Twitter and in interviews. I am going to play the role of contrarian. Grinnell should be embarrassed by this.
Grinnell’s men’s team plays a unique brand of basketball. They press all over the court on every defensive possession and push the ball offensively, shooting mostly three-point shots. They’ve led the country in scoring in 17 of the last 19 years and in 3-point shooting in 15. Because they play at such a fast pace, they will substitute, on average, at least one player every two minutes, often subbing out all five players at the same time, like a hockey line.
In Tuesday’s game, Jack Taylor played 36 of the 40 possible minutes. He attempted 108 shots, 71 one of them three-point shots, 58 of them in the second half. A half being 20 minutes long, that averages out to just about 3 shots attempted per minute, during a half of basketball in which we can assume that, at least for most of it, Grinnell was winning by anywhere from 50 to 70 points.
Excuse the pun, but what, precisely, is the point? What is the point of leaving Jack Taylor in for most of the game when leading by such a large margin? What is the point in allowing the young man to shoot three times per minute when already blowing the other team out? Even if it were only to allow Taylor to break the old record, which was 113 points, the coach, David Arsenault, could have removed him from the game 24 points earlier than he did. Even if the coach left Taylor in the game after breaking the record, there was no reason to continue to push the ball and have him shoot three shots per minute.
There is never an excuse for embarrassing an opponent. To do so for the sake of breaking a record is to demonstrate a complete lack of priorities. Grinnell’s mission statement reads, in part, that “the College holds that knowledge is a good to be pursued both for its own sake and for the intellectual, moral, and physical well-being of individuals and of society at large.” It’s difficult to see how that mission was fulfilled Tuesday.
When we talk and write about the corrupting influence of athletics on colleges and universities, we’re usually talking about large public universities. Tuesday’s game against Faith Baptist Bible College demonstrates that athletics can corrupt at all levels of competition, from Penn State to Grinnell.