By now, if you have basic Internet, then you’ve seen the clip of Driscoll Middle School’s football team pulling a fast one on their opponents, and if you search “Driscoll Middle School” or even “trick play” on YouTube, you’ll get 400 pages of “Greatest Trick Play Ever” and various other verbal celebrations and tributes. And it’s an entertaining clip, featuring a ballsy kid following his coach’s diabolical plan to snap the ball and just walk nonchalantly through the defensive line and take off for the end zone. Everyone loves it, your co-workers and frat brothers have probably emailed it to you 100 times – it’s probably the biggest viral sports video of the year. And of course someone has a problem with it.
Writer, commentator and Grandpa Munster impersonator Frank Deford wrote a piece for NPR (Punte’s favorite!), calling the heralded play “child abuse” as he shakes an angry fist:
But the Driscoll team didn’t act instinctively to try to put one over on a ref. The middle schoolers didn’t even come up with the ruse. Their coach dreamed up the play, and even participated in it, hollering from the sideline. The referees weren’t victimized. In fact, they had to play along.
No, it was only the other team’s kids who were embarrassed and belittled by a children’s coach being a wise guy, a bully of sorts. It wasn’t genius at all; rather, it was a form of child abuse. Sure, it was legal, but it wasn’t fair.
Laugh at kids being outslicked by a grown-up, and you’re cruel. That isn’t sport.
Part of me wants to give this guy a wedgie and shove him into his locker, but part of me also… agrees. Sort of. I can understand the idea that Deford is expressing, and when we’re watching these videos we aren’t thinking, “Hey, those kids on the other team feel pretty sh*tty right now.” But this isn’t anything new, so let’s chill out with the child abuse bit.
Morris Buttermaker told Rudi Stein to lean into a pitch, and so did one of my old little league coaches. Adults are dicks when they’re coaching kids, because they’re competitive. It’s good for kids to get a taste of it early, because – and I think this can be said for pretty much everything, without getting all political – our kids need to learn how to take a punch. Besides, if we don’t teach kids trick plays now, who will grow up to run Wall Street?
Join us as we examine five types of trickery on the football field…
At the heart of Deford’s argument is this play, orchestrated by Driscoll coach John Delosantos, who thought to himself, “I need to come up with a play that will fool a team of children.” Quarterback Jason Garza takes the ball and just wanders up the middle, untouched by any defenders, mostly because they have no clue what’s happening. The play aired on ESPN and countless other sports shows and network news broadcasts, with Delosantos and Garza making TV appearances along the way. Next stop: Boise State.
Unlike the Driscoll play, these kids went with the old “Hey coach, it’s the wrong ball routine” and the QB takes off for the end zone. I’m honestly surprised that when these videos are posted on YouTube they’re not also accompanied by videos of the opposing teams’ coaches brawling in the parking lot. Thank God these kids games don’t have postgame press conferences.
This is the perfect example of the counterpoint to Deford’s argument. If you want to stop an opposing team from making your kids look foolish, then be aware of the game. The defense saw this play coming and the only kid that feels bad after this play is the quarterback as he was flattened. I hope for the sake of fairness that it was the coach’s son.
I don’t even know what was going on here. I assume that the kid who breaks off the chain of backflips is well known for his gymnastic abilities judging by the response from the crowd, but apparently the refs missed the memo. Was this a distraction play? Was it in response to the genocides in Rwanda? We may never know.
Sometimes the best trick plays aren’t even tricks at all. Like this play, for instance, as the player drops the ball, kicks it, recovers it and then throws it to an open receiver in the end zone. The announcers question if the play was actually designed that way and then the last thing I hear is the cyanide caplet in my mouth pop.