Monday, September 7, 2009
One Day or Series?
A couple of weeks back, Silk and I had an animated debate over the method in which the Florida State Champion is selected. Ever since, I've felt I'd air this debate over the interwebs, so we could hear a few more viewpoints. Speak up if you have an opinion. There is no wrong answer. This is no Bigworm versus Ricky Silk tug of war. Everybody knows I have the utmost respect for that guy. We just have a difference of opinion, and I wonder how others feel on the subject. Besides, reader participation is always more interesting to me.
So it goes like this; currently, our state champion is selected based on series of races in which points are awarded for your placing at each race. At the end of the series, high score wins. Aside from a few curve balls like dropped races, make up races, and bonus point time trials, it's a pretty straight forward system. The National Champion, and many other state's champions are selected by a one race, winner take all, format.
In a nutshell, Silk is a fan of the one day format, while I argue that the series system is more indicative of a champion. I'll lay out my arguments below, and hopefully, I can get Silk to write his here. I can remember a few of his points, but I don't wish to short change his view on the matter.
Ever since I started racing, I always had more respect for the NORBA National Championship Series, or Grundig World Cup, winners, as opposed to the one day National and World Champions. I always felt that the one day guys were lurkers, biding there time while the series guys worked to balance an entire season, on a myriad of courses, in varying weather elements. One day guys were good that day, and that's the only time they had to be good. I don't mean to imply that it's easy to be THAT good on the prescribed day, but it seems a lot easier than trying to master the whole season. Usually, the one day wonders were in the top 20 of the series races anyway, but still, do you really want a guy who consistently finishes 18th, to be your top of the pyramid guy?
Specifically, the Florida Series was the basis for our debate. My same idealistic theories apply locally. However, it really is tough to stick it out in Florida. We race almost year 'round. If you race on the road, too, you start in February, and the Florida State Championship Series ends in December. It's just not realistic to stay competitively fast that long. So you have to focus on something. If you want to be Florida State Champion, you do the F.S.C. Series.
This series runs September to December. Again, its a long time, and I promise you that the travel will wear on you. But isn't that just part of it? I mean, should we really make it easier to say that you're the State Champ. That sounds a little like lowest common denominator stuff to me; dumbing down the process, so to speak. If they wish to wear the mantle as State Champion, I want to see how they do all over the state, against as many competitors as possible. I'll be impressed if you won the race at XYZ course, against whomever showed up that day, but Championship status? I need to be more impressed than that.
I don't think the series system is fool proof. We've had several series winners, who were not necessarily the fastest guys around(Your's truly can attest to that first hand). The faster guys may have burned out, and been unwilling to complete the series. They may have had injury. Again, I feel this is a good thing. If you wish to be king for a year, show me you can hold up under pressure for 4 months, at least. Mountain bike racing was born, and relied heavily on self sufficiency. You had to be able to take care of yourself in the back country. Racers often rode with spare derailleurs in their packs, just in case. Self sufficiency is going the way of the dinosaur in world and national level races, but is still intact at the local level. Surviving a series is simply a big picture version of surviving a single race. If you want to be the Big Dawg, respect your roots and succeed in the big picture.
Now, I know we have an opinionated following around here, so let's have it. Back me up, or expose the flaws, either way, just participate. Make sure you check in with Silk. At the very least, maybe this will get he and I 3 more viewers this month.