I was covering the Eastside girls in the Region 8-AAAA golf tournament at Highland Walk Golf Course in Royston (if you ever feel like driving an hour and a half to play golf it is worth it) on Monday and was talking to the Eastside coach, Jay Cawthan, about the changes implemented by the GHSA this year to qualify to state.
In the past, the region champion and the runner-up advanced to the state tournament along with the boys and girls low medalist, which makes sense. I'm not sure when this rule started, but if the low medalist is on a team that qualified for state, then they would invite the low medalist from a team that did not qualify to the state tournament to participate for the low medalist championship as an individual. To me that also makes sense and is a good idea.
But I don't think that it was good enough for some coaches or parents. As in every single sport, some regions are going to be stronger than others. I'm almost positive that the parent or coach of a team that constantly came in third or fourth place in one of these strong regions went whining to the GHSA. They complained, and probably threatened to sue, about how it's not fair that their team is better than some of the teams from the weaker regions going to state and how something has to be done in the name of fairness.
To that I say get over it, life isn't fair so try harder next time. The faster these people come to the realization that in order to be winners there have to be losers and pass that lesson off to their kids the better everyone will be. I was wondering, when this idiotic notion of giving a participation trophy to every kid became a good thing? We learn to grow and mature as humans by overcoming obstacles. If parents don't stop being so over protective, we're going to be left with a generation of so-called adults that pout when things don't go their way and expect their parents to give them a lollipop and make it better. I guess that's why it's becoming the norm to be in your late 20s and still live at home having mommy get you cookies and milk before making your bed at night.
In the golf committee's infinite wisdom, they caved to the pressure and set guidelines to teams qualifying to play at the state tournament. Because of their new rules, even if a team wins their region that does not mean they go to state unless they shoot a particular score.
To automatically qualify for state, a team has to win region and shoot below a predetermined score. Otherwise, they go to a sectional along with every other team that hit that magical mark. It sounded like a good idea since the state tournament should be played by the best teams. Then I covered the Region 2-AAAAAA tournament at The Oaks Course (which as usual was in great condition) the following day.
The coaches were talking about the score they needed to beat to go to straight to state. Since I had gone over this the previous day, I said how the four-scoring players for boys team need to break 340 and the three-scoring players for the girls team needs to break 320. That was when one of the other coaches said I was wrong.
After the shock of being told I was wrong wore off, I smugly looked over and said I don't think so. I explained how I was at the Region 8-AAAA tournament and that was the score they had to beat. That was when one of the other coaches suggested they look at the GHSA website and check it out.
It was then when we realized we were both right. For whatever reason, the GHSA decided to make the qualifications different for certain classifications. In Class AAA and AAAA, the score to beat for the boys is 340 and 320 for the girls. But in Class AAAAA and AAAAAA, that score is lowered to 320 for the boys and 300 for the girls.
The qualifications for Class AA is 350 for the boys and a two-player score of 200 for the girls. The region champion, regardless of score, in Class A will go to state with the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers advancing to sectional to compete for the remaining eight spots.
Why in the world would there be different rules for different classifications? The next thing you know the state is going to say that basketball rims remain at 10-feet for the higher classifications and nine for the others. Or better yet, any player at 6 feet, 5 inches or taller cannot be in the paint on defense to give those teams without tall players a chance to score. Maybe they'll limit the amount of blocks, rebounds or layups a player can have to keep them from dominating the glass. This changing the rules in the name of fairness is getting out of control.
If Alcovy's girls had been in Class AAAA, they would have gone to state since they shot a 303. Instead, they have to play at the Class AAAAAA sectional where unless they're one of the top teams they won't go to state.
This became even more confusing and turned into a debate of the rules with Alcovy's Kelsey Knight winning the low medalist. Since Alcovy qualified for sectional, Newton's Logan Malcolm, who was three shots back, qualified for the state tournament since she had the lowest score from a non-qualifying team.
My question is what happens to Kelsey if Alcovy as a team does not qualify at sectional and she doesn't happen to shoot one of the low scores at sectional since Logan's name was already sent to state? Don't get me wrong, Logan played well and deserves to be there but so does Kelsey since she's the rightful low medalist.
The Eastside boys also got cheated out of going to state. While Quinn Murphy is heading to Dalton Country Club as a result of being the low medalist shooting a 77, the team did not make it even though it was the region runner-up.
Is the golf sectional a good idea? Yes, I think it is. But on the other hand, the same qualifying standards should apply for every team across the board. I think the GHSA needs to revisit its policy.
Manny Fils is a sports writer for The Citizen. Fils can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.