Culture, Featured, NCAA, Soccer

Journalism Fail: The Grinnell kid who scored 138 points in a game

Last Tuesday night when I got home from work I was very surprised by the lead story on the 2 a.m. SportsCenter.  It was about a kid who scored 138 points in a Division III college basketball game.  The only video they had available looked as if it was shot from a cell phone, and there was very little information given about the game itself.  Even though it was an NCAA record for points by a single player, it didn’t feel right to me that ESPN led with it.  It seemed far too ridiculous a story to just accept without wondering how it happened.

The next afternoon, one of the headlines on ESPN.com featured this article about how impressed Lebron was by the kid’s 138 points.  As I read through it, a single bit of information mentioned almost as an afterthought completely blew me away.

“The previous Grinnell record was 89 by Griffin Lentsch last Nov. 19 against Principia.”

Um, what?  How could ESPN report something like that so casually without questioning the oddity of it?  A kid scores 138 points in a game, and ho hum, a year ago a different kid on the same team had an 89 point night?  And that doesn’t make you curious how?

Deadspin posted a story explaining what really happened.  Basically, the coach and team went into the game with the intention of breaking a record.  Grinnell didn’t really play defense.  In fact, a player on the other team scored 70 points because they repeatedly gave him open layups.  And the kid who set the record rarely went back on defense at all, he just waited on the other side of the court for his teammates to pass him the ball.  Here’s a youtube clip of all his baskets; you can see at the 4:19 mark that he’s just standing there under the hoop.  Grinnell also substituted freshman bench players into the game solely for the purpose of fouling to stop the clock, put the other team on the free throw line, and get the ball back so the kid could score more.

And then there’s this: Grinnell’s opponent, Faith Baptist Bible College, is a school of just 330 students that’s not even a member of the NCAA.  None of this would have been remotely possible against anything even resembling legitimate competition.

Ryen Russillo of ESPN seemed to agree with me on his show that maybe the story wasn’t covered properly.  I sent him this tweet with a few of the kid’s stats, which he read live on the air:

So here’s my point: This shouldn’t have been reported as “wow, look at the amazing accomplishment!”  This was more of a “wow, look at the crazy/funny thing that happened” type of story.  It wasn’t headline news, it was the squirrel on water skis video clip you see at the end of the broadcast that makes people laugh and go to bed happy.

Check out my blog “37 seconds of sports and other stuff i care about” at lucidsportsfan.com, and follow me on twitter @LucidSportsFan