xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Bird Brown: The pros and cons of postseason awards

As the fall season closed and many athletes have moved indoors for their next form of competition or to a well-deserved rest, it was time to recognize the successful athletes and great performances of the past season and begin to think about who might be lining up for the same in their winter sport.

Members of local travel and recreation sports teams were selected to their respective league all-star teams and maybe even played in some games.

Advertisement

High school players receive recognition for their on-field contributions through spots on the All-County, All-Conference, and All-State teams. Some get the opportunity to play in postseason all-star games in their respective sports. Again, this year we held the annual senior all-star games paying tribute to the graduating seniors from across the county and giving them one more chance to play with their teammates and with some of their normal opponents.

They begin to make contact with their prospective collegiate coaches and narrow down their choices for where they’ll take their game to the next level.

Receiving postseason honors is a great conclusion to the season, to get some sort of feedback for the many hours of off-season preparation, in-season practice and in-game performances. It’s a testament to the hard work and the many hours of sweat that you’ve put in with your teammates, at the direction of the coach and using the resources of your school.

It’s a reward for the time and financial commitments that parents make on your behalf and the countless hours of driving to practice and games and sitting on cold bleachers in support of their athletes and their teammates.

There are mixed feelings about the whole postseason honors process from the players, the parents, coaches, and even casual fans that follow the game. Each process is handled a bit differently with some taking minimal input from outsiders, others relying purely on coaches’ choices, and still others, well, I can’t even explain some of the others.

I have been frustrated with my fellow coaches that don’t attend the meetings to advocate for their players and those they’ve competed against during the season. I’ve sat in meetings during which someone put up nine players for a first-team all-state recognition from one high school team.

All-State. First Team.

I’ve sat in others during which a coach failed to put up his player because he didn’t have his statistics together for the meeting. Especially after the all-state process this past fall season, I really have a better understanding of why many coaches choose not to participate.

The political process involved with getting your players honored with postseason accolades makes the current impeachment process look like a second grader’s tea party.

As a parent, it can be frustrating when your high school athlete doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Or at least that we think he deserves. I remember getting a call from a parent whose son did not make the all-county first team even though he had made it the last two years. I was at a loss for words, as the player had made the second team.

This particular player had exceptional years as a sophomore and junior, but his senior year was above average. There were other players across the county that had better numbers and the writers, with much input from the county coaches, made the decision that in their opinion had other players rated above him.

As a coach you can fight for all of your players, but sometimes the collective group decides otherwise and other players receive the postseason awards.

It’s easy to put the blame on the coach or the sportswriter that “didn’t like” our young athlete or because he or she didn’t go to a particular school.

I have a college teammate who to this day holds a serious grudge about being slighted for a postseason honor. I’m not saying players don’t sometimes get the proper recognition they deserve, but in all my years of coaching and being involved in the postseason award process, I’m pretty sure there’s no conspiracy theory against any one child by a collective group of people or the members of the sports media.

Advertisement

The recent selection of the Times’ All-Decade teams has been no different in the amount of “buzz” they have created and the immediate objections to certain selections and debate about who would have been better suited for the team.

How do you pick a team of the best players from this county, for each sport, across an entire decade, from hundreds and hundreds of athletes, to fill out your starting 5 or 11, nonetheless choose the one athlete selected as the Player of the Decade?

I understand the need and desire for these postseason honors by many fans and participants in the local sports scene, and to be honest I am proud of and still hold on to any honors I would have received in high school or college, but I have never been a fan of these types of teams because of those players that are left out of the process, many of whom are deserving of their own recognition.

But for those players left out on the fringe, I would recommend that they listen to the words of Mark Twain: “It is better to deserve honors and not receive them than to have them and not to deserve them.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement