Sports, a microcosm of our society

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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.

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