If reality TV has taught us anything, it's that anyone who maintains the self-important, I'm-not-here-to-make-friends attitude is inevitably a loser—in every sense of the word.
The Omarosas of reality TV shows like The Apprentice might be the most memorable, but they certainly are not the people worth emulating.
And yet that sense of self-above-others is just what this week's Rogue, the Oregon School Activities Association, effectively tried to teach the 972 cross-country runners and 605 golfers who qualified for state championships this past year in Oregon high schools.
Before backing down on Jan. 26, the OSAA had proposed to rejigger state cross-country and golf championships so fewer participants would qualify. The governing body for high-school sports in Oregon now lets the top two varsity teams plus the top four non-team-affiliated individuals in each district qualify for the cross-country state championships. In golf, the OSAA qualifies the top two teams and best three stand-alone individuals in each district as eligible to compete in state.
That's in keeping with the traditional team practices in both sports as they're played in high school. In cross country, teams compete against one another by adding the placement results of each individual runner, with the lowest overall team score prevailing. Similarly, in golf, individual scores are added to get a team score with the low score winning the team competition.
The OSAA had proposed using regional or sectional qualifying events that would instead disregard team scores and accept only the best-ranking individuals, reducing the number of participants and diminishing both sports' team aspects.
Eric Davis, administrator of the 4,000-member-strong Facebook group Save Oregon High School Cross-Country that arose in protest, passionately believed that was the wrong course. Davis, who ran cross country at South Eugene High School for three years in the mid-'80s, says a cross-country team is much more than a group of individuals who wear the same uniform. "It [the team] becomes part of your blood, part of your heritage," Davis says. "The team becomes part of your family.It becomes a brotherhood or sisterhood that runs really deep." In a world where the sense of the common good has already shrunk to the size of Simon Cowell's heart, we agree.
The OSAA says the proposal under consideration would save money in tough economic times and enhance the competition.
"You always have teams and individuals that make it to state championships and others that don't," OSAA assistant executive Peter Weber said before the OSAA's retreat. "It's not an all-comers meet. It is a state championship. You have to be competitive enough to qualify and make it through."
Fortunately, the OSAA finally stopped trying to shove a divisive "I" into team and is taking comments at its public meeting 9 am Monday, Feb. 1, at 25200 SW Parkway Ave. in Wilsonville. The topic? Alternatives that will keep the teams and individuals qualifying while saving money.