Who can tell me what's more fun than having the opportunity to beat a backyard rival?
That's basically what these county championship games and matches come down to. It's a big deal, but it is only part of the benefit that comes from them.
There are coaches, even coaches who have won county championship games, who don't like them. Why? They say it can wipe out an entire season of work, the way it did River Hill's 13-0 golf record a couple of weeks ago. Or in a sport like baseball, it can be less than a classic matchup because one team might hold back its No. 1 pitcher because of a coming regional playoff game. Or, there could be injuries. Or, or, or ...
But here's the thing: This is high school athletics. First and foremost, it should be fun. Not just for the perfect team, but also for the near perfect. How exciting for a group of kids to have the chance to knock off an undefeated county foe - as the River Hill girls field hockey team does in the Howard County championship match today against 10-0 Glenelg. In the regular season, River Hill lost, 2-1, in overtime. How exciting for Glenelg to attempt to become the first Howard County team to go undefeated in the regular season and win the county championship. How much fun is that game going to be?
How exciting is it for each team in a county final to play another top team? To prepare for playoff competition with a meaningful championship game?
Down the road, for winner or loser, that title game might spark confidence or inspiration for a stronger commitment for a bigger win.
Or the county championship game might just be those players' only experience in a title game of any kind.
But no matter what, the county title game, against a backyard rival, will linger in the players' memories for a very long time.