By Bill Tamburrino
Everybody loves a “feel good” story, especially this time of year.
Everybody wants to be a winner. Everybody wants their child to get good grades.
Literature is full of feel good stories, from fairy tales to great literature, Cinderella to the Prince and the Pauper. The king who lost his crown at birth, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we are all familiar with those stories.
As a retired teacher of literature, I am familiar with most of those stories. However, those stories are fiction, but now we are trying to make those stories reality. Reality TV is not reality. It quits being reality when the camera starts rolling.
Sports has always been a source of feel good stories. At first they were real stories and they made such good stories and movies that now they are being manufactured for television from youth leagues to high school and college.
If everybody in the league gets a trophy, then the trophy is meaningless. If stats and records and wins and losses are not kept, then it is not a game. If there is no winner or loser, then everybody is a loser. Winning is the most important thing. Losing is the second most important thing because the loser was in the arena and competed and tried to win.
Learning from losses and failures and striving to try to prevent them in the future is as important as winning — and begets winners.
No-fail classes in high school are a sham. Giving out grades and diplomas is like giving out trophies. The grades and diplomas are meaningless. How many times does a person get to fail and how much are we willing to spend on those failures?
All tournaments should be double elimination or single elimination; two and a barbecue for the losers. I’ll buy a consolation bracket, but on your second loss you are gone.
Back in the day, tournaments were double elimination. The winners played on. The losers went back to school and practiced.
These tournaments that guarantee games with pool play or the same amount of games as the winners are bad for the losers. They just continue to lose and learn nothing and don’t improve anything. Instead of playing another loser, they should be practicing to get better.
Teams with losing records going to the playoffs in high school in any sport is a joke. Or make that a losing record in league. If a team plays a tough pre-league schedule and wins its league, then it is a winner. 0-10 teams should not get a chance to go 0-11.
Coaches will rationalize by saying that the playoff experience is good for student/athletes. Earning the right to go to the playoffs is good for student/athletes.
I will say that the whole setup in the San Diego Section is not equitable. The leagues are based on geography and in some cases demographics and not enrollment or strength in the sport. Having a Division IV team in the same league with Division I, II or III teams is foolish and unfair.
In college, allowing teams with six losses or in some cases seven losses to go to a bowl game is a farce. The only reason coaches are for it is it gives coaches two more weeks to practice for next year.
Many bowl games are money losers for the teams that go. Being bowl eligible just means that you were not one of the 30 teams that was not bowl eligible. It is setting the bar too low.
Notice that in most of the bowl games the director tries to minimize the shots of the crowd. Actually it is not a crowd. In many cases it is a mostly empty stadium. A bowl that guarantees the fifth place team from a conference a bid is a bowl for losers.
Instead of 70 teams going to bowl games, only 30 should go. If a sports junkie like me would rather watch a “Golden Girls” marathon than a bowl with two teams with a combined 12 losses, then something is wrong with the bowl (and probably me, too).
All men and all teams were not created equal. They should be treated equally in the eyes of the law. Everybody does not deserve a color television, a cell phone, and steak at every meal.
An institution that allows teams with seven losses to go to a bowl game and bans teams with no losses or winning records because of the sins committed by somebody else is a bad institution. The system is rewarding the losers and punishing the innocent.
I have seen a commercial run during several bowl games that states the USA is 17th in the world in math and science. I glanced at the countries above us and I know why their students test better than American students. We try to educate everybody. We try to educate even those who don’t want to be educated and don’t try to learn. Some of those students will be playing in bowl games on teams with six wins.
That doesn’t happen in China. In too many cases our public schools are providing child care, a warm place to stay, and two free meals and calling it an education. And some wonder why we can’t pass school bonds.
Feel good stories are only good if they are not fiction or are not reality. In sports, winners should be determined by the rules. Standings should count.
Those who don’t win don’t have to be losers but in too many cases we are giving the losers the same benefits as the winners. That makes them losers, not winners. Unfortunately sports is a microcosm of society.