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Resting players and sportsmanship?

Discussion in 'Sports Programming and Events' started by Stewart Vernon, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    This applies to all sports really, but came to the forefront again this past weekend with the NFL and Indy pulling players late in a game that they didn't need to win.

    I remember the Lakers in the 1980s sometimes doing this late in the regular season as well... It's basically not a new thing and something that happens in most sports late in the season.

    I'm torn on how to feel.

    On the one hand, you earn the right to rest players for the playoffs if you play well and lock up your division/seeding. On the other hand, your resting players sometimes affects other teams seeding or even making the playoffs.

    Consider Indy resting and "letting" the Jets win, means the Jets now can win-and-in themselves next weekend. Meanwhile, Indy beat lots of teams this year with a late 4th quarter drive (Houston for example) and effectively put those teams out of the playoffs.

    The argument for "not getting someone hurt" comes up... but I remember Carson Palmer getting hurt in the playoffs so resting before that is no guarantee... and other players (like Tom Brady last season) get hurt and out for the year in the first game or sometimes even pre-season.

    So... would you start a season playing the Raiders and figure they are going to be a bad team so you rest your starters early in the year?

    I'm understanding of why you'd pull players when you have a big lead OR keep players out that are injured... but consider too that Indy, for example, says they pulled their starters because "going undefeated isn't a goal" because their goal is "the Superbowl"... but you can bet money that Manning will start next week anyway for a few plays to keep his consecutive-starter streak intact... and he might very well get sacked and injured in the first play of the game.

    So some non-team goals are more important than others... or otherwise there would be no longevity streaks because guys like Favre and Manning wouldn't start that last "meaningless" game of the season.

    While I'm using football examples... the topic really applies to every sport. So I'm wondering what everyone else thinks about resting players in "meaningless" games at the end of the season.
  2. Dirac

    Dirac Legend

    Apr 23, 2007
    Well, these guys are professionals. How about I slack off at work for the next two months because we're having an audit in March and I'm really going to need to be at the top of my game?

    I understand the risks are a little different for athletes, and I'm not trying to oversimplify things too much (I understand the counterargument) but most people I know expect professionals to give their best effort in every circumstance.
  3. JM Anthony

    JM Anthony Child of the 60's DBSTalk Gold Club

    Nov 16, 2003
    At the pro level, coaches and assistants get paid a lot of money to make these decisions. Whatever the sport, their goal is to win the championship. If they want to rest 1st stringers, so be it. From one perspective, it helps the other players get better prepared so when they have to step in in a game day situation they're ready for prime time.

  4. Ira Lacher

    Ira Lacher Icon

    Apr 24, 2002
    That is exactly what the Colts did. Except their big lead was the season standings.

    Also, coaches need to get snaps for second-tier players to give them game experience. What better time to do this than a "real" (not preseason) game, when they are probably more likely to face top-flight starters across the line, as opposed to games in July and August?

    Plus, fans should understand that this season is an anomaly, where you a have a smattering of excellent teams and a whole host of mediocre or downright terrible teams. So the gap between division winner and also-rans is huge. But that's the exception rather than the rule.
  5. cheryl10

    cheryl10 AllStar

    Dec 15, 2009
    What people forget is that the Jets could have possibly won the game even if the Colts starters remained in the game. Its not like Indy was blowing them out. It was 15-10 when Indy pulled its starters.
  6. adunkle

    adunkle AllStar

    Aug 19, 2006
    I think that if the Colts were not unbeaten going into the game then this would not be an issue for Colts fans. I read an article on Yahoo where only 1 team in NFL history has went undefeated. We wanted to make history. That's my take anyway.
  7. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    How many other games this season did Indy pull their starters with less than a touchdown lead?

    I'm pretty sure the answer to that is zero.

    In a very real sense they cheated the paying fans by not playing a game to the end BUT charged the fans full price for the ticket. Also, they cheated themselves a chance at an undefeated season... and they cheated other teams in the playoff hunt by giving the Jets a game rather than forcing them to earn it.

    Plus... IF Indy does not win the Superbowl, they will absolutely be creamed by the media for having made that decision to pull players and not keep their momentum... so they will have to answer the question again.

    You also have a situation with Manning who has never missed a start in his career... so is there a real reason to assume he was going to get hurt? If so, isn't that indicative of a worse problem with the team that is likely to get exposed in the playoffs anyway?

    I guess I'm just bothered in any sport where one team admittedly stops trying. How many times have you heard all the negatives about a team "quitting" and not putting forth effort in games? You hear all the time about how that is a very bad thing... but apparently not trying isn't the same as quitting?

    I have to be honest... and as a fan... I'm not rooting as much for Indy now as I feel like it wasn't that important to them. I have the same feeling with the NBA as they talk about teams being "built for the post-season" and how the regular season doesn't matter to a team.
  8. HDJulie

    HDJulie Icon

    Aug 10, 2008
    While that may be somewhat true this year, the scenario of sitting players in NFL games at season end due to not needing the win to affect playoff standings is something that happens every year. This year, I think we'll have a larger number of teams that will sit players because they can't move up in playoff standings. The Colts, Saints, Chargers, Bengals, & Patriots will probably all sit their players (other than for Manning needing the start to continue his streak). However, if the argument is to rest your best players to save them or to give your second string a chance in a "real" game, then why don't the teams that are out of the playoffs do the same thing. Why risk a career-ending injury in what is also a meaningless game? Give the rookies a chance at some experience.

    As a fan of the NFL, I want every game to matter & have every game played by the best players available. I hate that some teams slide into the playoffs over another team because of other teams sitting their players. However, I also admit that first, any team needing a win at the end of the season could have won more teams during the season & not been in this situation, second that players do get hurt as the season goes on & that can cost a team dearly, and third that the ultimate goal IS the Super Bowl. Everything else is meaningless. Just ask the Patriots -- I'll bet any one of them would gladly trade that one loss for a regular season game as opposed to it being the Super Bowl -- they'd give up that perfect regular season for the Super Bowl win.

    What's conflicting for me is that when the Patriots played their players the last games in order to get that 16 - 0 record, I thought they were dicks. But I hate them anyway. When the Colts pulled their players & then lost the game, I thought they were idiots. So, you can't win for losing :). I feel the same as Stewart, though -- having Indy pull their players & then lose has taken the shine off of them for me. I'm a Saints fan first & a Manning fan second (well, Favre is above all of them but I think that's not a popular opinion these days :-0) but now I will probably root for whoever the NFC team is in the Super Bowl, even if Indy is the AFC team. Unless it is the Cowboys -- I hate them, too.
  9. Jan 1, 2010 #9 of 58

    cheryl10 AllStar

    Dec 15, 2009

    Colts fans won't feel cheated if they go on the win the Super Bowl. The Colts goal is to win the Super Bowl not go 16-0 in the regular season. I'm sure Patriots fans would trade in that 16-0 season for a Super Bowl win in a heartbeat.
    Jim Caldwell was looking out for the best interest of his team. How would fans feel if one of their top players got injured at the end of that Jets game?
  10. n3ntj

    n3ntj Hall Of Fame

    Dec 18, 2006
    If my team was close to a perfect season record and the coach sat the stars and regulars near the end of the season, I would be mad too.
  11. roadrunner1782

    roadrunner1782 Icon

    Sep 27, 2008
    I'm not a Colts fan by no means, but I was even mad seeing them bench starters. I understand winning the championship is more important than an undefeated season but why not go for it? I would think Indy would realize benching there starters is probably a bad thing since every other time they've done it they lose in the playoffs. The only time they did win it all was when they had to play all there starters straight through the playoffs.
  12. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    The problem, as I see it... is sports like the NFL are even considering expanding their season to 18 games... but if we have teams tanking games late in the season because they "don't matter"... maybe we actually need to contract and play 14 or less games so that there are no meaningless games.

    What's the difference, for example, between that last preseason game vs a week 15 game where you pull your starters? Fans pay full price for a ticket, but don't get a full effort from their team.

    The same can be said for other sports... like the NBA's 82 game season where most teams consider a good year to be 50-60 wins and a playoff birth... so there are lots of "meaningless" games played without effort during a season.

    Also, guys get hurt in practice... and even teams that take a game off to "rest" go full-out in practice so they don't get out of shape at the end of the season... so who is to say when a player might get hurt in practice and be out for the playoffs as well.

    It's really just a silly notion that people fear an injury in the last game of the season enough to not try and win the game.
  13. dhhaines

    dhhaines Hall Of Fame

    Nov 18, 2005
    My problem with any professional team resting it's best players for any reason is that the fans pay to see the best players. Do the teams give the fans who paid the same price for the game played by backups a refund?

    To me they're cheating the fans , no matter what the reason is for sitting out the marque players people have paid to see.
  14. Shades228

    Shades228 DaBears

    Mar 18, 2008
    I was more upset because it impact play off implications. Teams have been doing this for years but because a team on the bubble gets the luck of playing a team that will rest starters doesn't make it fair to the other teams on the bubble who are fighting it out for 60 minutes. Other than that I could care less.

    Disclaimer: I'm a Bears fan and our team wasn't even a reflection on the bubble looking in.
  15. Herdfan

    Herdfan Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    But in the same vein, is it fair for the Broncos who are fighting for a wildcard to get 4 games against the Raiders and Chiefs vs. the Ravens and Steelers who have to beat on each other for that same wildcard berth.

    It is just the luck of the draw that the Jets got Indy in week 16 vs. week 4.
  16. cheryl10

    cheryl10 AllStar

    Dec 15, 2009
    Are these the same Raiders and Chiefs that Pittsburgh lost to? If the Steelers miss the playoffs, they have only themselves to blame.
  17. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    Luck of the draw is one thing... there is no such thing as a "balanced" schedule really... but one does assume that at least both teams will be trying to win.

    Imagine if they played the whole season not to get hurt and resting.

    I've speculated before... if you have the Raiders in week 1, why not rest your players and not try that game because you figure it won't matter by the end of the season.

    To me it is just a bad precedent that was started many years ago that some games are of practically no value. If that is true, then we really need to be playing (and charging fans for) less games each season.
  18. sorentodd45

    sorentodd45 AllStar

    May 12, 2009
    But any NFL team can win on any given Sunday. The Bucs won in the Superdome this season, and Drew Brees was still on the field.

    I'm a bit bummed that the Colts lost, but at least the pressure is now off.
  19. HDJulie

    HDJulie Icon

    Aug 10, 2008
    You can't rest your players at the beginning of the season because you don't know yet whether you will need that win or not. You might end up like the Colts where you know in Week 14 that you don't need any more wins, or you might end up like the Saints who, for many weeks, were just one game ahead of the Vikings. It could have ended with the Saints needing to go 16 - 0 just to keep the Number 1 seed, if the Vikings (and Saints) hadn't imploded the last few weeks.

    The point is -- you can't know at the beginning of the season how many wins you need so you need them all. At the end of the season, you do know how many MORE you need, if any.
  20. hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Not sure there will ever be a solid "rule of thumb" even on this....

    It would appear that the timing, team circumstances, and team consequences all come into play....so in the end....each case is slightly different to assess.

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