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NHIAA lets them all be (sort of) winners

By Alan Greenwood - Staff Writer | Mar 23, 2020

Alan Greenwood

Kudos to the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association for coming up with a way to honor the basketball and hockey teams whose tournaments were zapped into the ozone by the pandemic.

That was the reaction here Monday morning upon seeing an email from the NHIAA.

After opening the email attachment, those kudos dissolved into exasperation, tinged with disgust.

“Co-champions will be awarded to the highest seeded team remaining on each side of the NHIAA Tournament bracket. All other teams remaining in the tournament will be awarded runner-up plaques and medals.”

In other words, let us try to make everyone happy.

Of course, trying to make everyone happy often results in making lots of folks angry.

Reality rules in competitive sports. Declaring multiple champions in one tournament slaps giant-sized asterisks on them.

Avoiding the agony of defeat is a philosophy that has been fully embraced by leagues for kids too young to kick a soccer ball further than three feet. Don’t keep score, don’t recognize the best (even if the kids themselves are fully able to). Give everyone a participation ribbon at a season-ending pizza party.

There is at least a smidgeon of logic behind this for the little ones. Athletic development has barely begun when first graders decide to give sports a try. Encouraging them to continue trying is a fine objective.

Applying that philosophy to high school athletes is at the far end of silliness. They keep score in high school. They have tournaments in which there is no margin for error – lose once and you are eliminated from the field.

It is impossible to know what would have happened had the tournaments been played out. All that can be determined is what the teams had already accomplished. Not using that as a guide to determining champions is absurd.

It is insulting to the highest seeds in each tournament to “share” championships. They were the top seeds for a reason, having either won the most games or survived any necessary tie-breakers.

One champion, one runner-up. That is how high school tournaments work. It is how they should work.

TIME TRAVEL: March 24, 1965 – For those folks too young to recall an age when the Red Sox were among baseball’s leaders in pure dysfunction, we bring you all the evidence you need.

The lead story was headlined: “Red Sox’ Bennett ailing; has shoulder pain.”

Pitcher Dennis Bennett was acquired from the Phillies in exchange for slugging first baseman Dick Stuart, whose power was matched only by his motor mouth.

Bennett said he had a pain in his left shoulder “that hurt just like a toothache” as he left an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Angels.

“It hurts in the same place it did last year but it’s not as painful. It’s been more painful than this in the past and it’s been less painful.”

Well, that clears that up.

In a sidebar, Stuart couldn’t keep himself tossing gasoline on the fire:

“Wouldn’t it be something if Bennett came up with a sore arm this season? Do you think the Red Sox’ brass would get jumped on a little bit?”

Oh they were jumped on all right.

If only sports talk radio existed back then.

Contact Alan Greenwood at 594-1248 or agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com.


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