bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: State hockey final ends in a tie and everyone loses

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I keep reading that this is a “trophy for everybody” world now. The lack of trophies on my desk make me think that this is just hyperbole, although it could just be that I have not competed in anything that would earn me one of these trophies just for being there. On second thought, I have several medals I received for finishing somewhere in the thousands in a bunch of races, so I guess I agree with the original premise. Still, when you get into organized sports beyond the type that anyone can just join because he or she feels like it, there is usually a distinct winner at the end, and that is as it should be. Occasionally, there are examples to the contrary, and this is where the supposed fun begins. Fun for columnists, not for players, of course. The state of Ohio held its high school hockey championships last week, and when the ice dust cleared, no one won. Or everyone won. It’s hard to tell.

Northview High School and St. Ignatius High School met in the finals last weekend. The players from both schools had accomplished quite a bit by making it that far, as scholastic hockey is very competitive in Ohio, and they had a lot of reasons to be proud. Still, the championship is what each of those kids wanted, and the teams fought hard to come out victorious. The score was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, so they went to overtime. No one scored during that time, so they went to a second overtime. That period was also scoreless, so they moved to a third overtime. This pattern continued until they reached the end of a seventh overtime. Here is where things went off the rails. Dan Ross, the commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, decided that the game would end there and that the two teams would share the title, citing player fatigue and safety concerns.

If you have ever played hockey, especially on skates, you know that it is an exhausting sport. Shifts are kept short because a player can only be effective in fairly brief bursts, so rest is necessary. Yes, I imagine that there is an increased risk of injury when hockey players get really tired. The decision to end this game with a 1-1 score was an atrocious one, though, in my opinion. Whatever the players might have said afterward, it had to feel like they played not only that whole game but even the whole season for nothing. A regular season game should never end in a tie, so the championship game certainly should not. The goalies had to be getting tired too, right? At some point, someone was going to score. The NHL has shootouts after one overtime period, but those are not allowed in scholastic hockey, and they are lame anyway. Play until someone wins or don’t play at all.

The kids were clearly disappointed when the decision was made, as many of them threw their equipment down on the ice in disgust. No one seemed happy with the outcome, including other students at the schools and their families. They may have all been declared champions, but I am pretty sure that none of them felt like they had won much of anything. I am curious as to how Mr. Ross determined that seven overtimes was the number at which the risk of injury became too high. Six was fine and seven was okay, but eight was just over the line. It’s just silly and arbitrary. For three-year-olds, giving all of the participants a trophy makes everyone feel good. For high school kids, doing the same surely made the players feel like they had wasted their time, and that’s a real shame.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler spent the first eight years of his excellent career playing for the Texas Rangers. This week, he stated in an interview that he hopes the Rangers go 0-162 this season due to his dislike for general manager Jon Daniels and others in management for his old team. I kind of like when athletes actually speak their minds, but this seems a little silly and won’t endear him to his old (and maybe some of his new) teammmates.

3) Rich Hill, a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, announced that the baby he and his wife had back in December had died after a battle with a number of serious medical problems since birth.

4) Golfer Ian Poulter, via Twitter, naturally, ripped Hideki Matsuyama on Friday after Matsuyama did something on the 13th green that caused a divot, possibly affecting those playing behind him, including Poulter. I am not clear on how major a thing this was, but Poulter sure reacted strongly to it. He was scheduled to play with Matsuyama on Saturday, which he knew at the time of his tweet, so at least he wasn’t entirely hiding behind social media.

5) Frank Martin, the head basketball coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks, was suspended for one game after he was seen screaming and cursing at a freshman player on his team during a loss to Florida on Tuesday.

6) William Clay Ford, the owner of the Detroit Lions, died on Sunday at the age of 88. In addition to owning the football team, he was also an executive in his family’s business, of which you might have heard (Ford Motor Company).

7) On Sunday, I had already missed the first half of the NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and headed out to run during the second half, so I listened to the radio broadcast while running. Some people may think that the fact that I listened to a radio broadcast of an auto race is Bad Sports all by itself, but beyond that, the broadcast itself was execrable. The announcers were so ridiculously and overtly excited at the prospect of media favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the race that, when he ran out of fuel with just half a lap to go, they were so clearly disappointed that they barely mentioned winner Brad Keselowski over the next five minutes.

Good Sports:

1) Shannon Szabados, who recently won a gold medal with the Canadian women’s hockey team in Sochi, has been signed by the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League, becoming the first woman player in the history of that league.

2) I mentioned last week that the Wichita State baksetball team had finished its regular season with a perfect 31-0 record. This week, the team added three more wins to that total, winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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4 Responses to “Bad sports, good sports: State hockey final ends in a tie and everyone loses”

  1. Well, not everyone loses. For example: sports writers.

  2. I didn’t understand why you put 3 under “Bad Sports” until I saw 6. I guess “bad” doesn’t mean that the person was “bad”, but that the news was negative or not cheerful. I guess either I was not paying full attention the past few months (a safe bet if you know me) or I have not understood the qualifications for ending up in the Bad Sports side of your essay.

    Feel free to educate me if I have misunderstood the premise. I thought a bad sport was an intentional negative act by someone or upon someone. I am being completely honest here.

  3. Hey azchurch – first, thanks for reading. I appreciate it. To answer your question, this is hardly a scientific process, of course. I consider things to be “Bad Sports” for a number of reasons. Sure, many of them involve bad things done by athletes, but a number of others involve bad things that happen to athletes or their families. Number 3 is a slam-dunk Bad Sports story to me. Item 6 could have gone either way. If I had written more, focusing on Ford’s accomplishments in his 50+ years of team ownership, I might have put it into Good Sports…but simply reporting his death is something that doesn’t feel like it belongs in the Good column.

  4. Alan

    As you say “bad things that happen to athletes or their families” so I appreciate the clarification. Thanks for taking the time to explain.

    Deep breath before next statement…as a lifelong (40+ years) Detroit sports fan, I must render respect to the Ford family and appreciate their contribution to the auto industry, their charitable work, and assistance to the financial welfare of the Detroit Lions through very lean economic times. I cannot agree with their managerial choices and decisions, but without Ford dough, there may not have been a Lions to cheer…or jeer all these years.

    As to your cover piece, since Dan Ross decided to make an off the cuff ruling about the number of OT’s in the Ohio HS championship, why did he not unilaterally call for a shootout to decide the outcome? Either decision would have been unprecedented. Ah well, I’m sure the competitors appreciated being “rescued” from the horrors of victory or defeat.

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