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.


RickySilk said...

I must be crazy for doing this... bring the hate. I can hear the footsteps of Big Worms minions.

jimbo said...

The series champion also rewards the guy who lives in the middle of the state and has enough money to travel to all the races. If you miss two races, you're out of it. It rewards the guy who chooses races over family, weddings, etc. Racing uber alles. It would be fine if it was best three races, and best at the finale as a tie breaker, but the way it is, it doesn't reward the best racer, it rewards those with the most tolerance for getting in there car and driving a whole bunch. You may have more respect for the series winner, but you can't argue that person is the best mtb racer in the state.

I also hate the idea of "beginner state champion," but that's a whole other argument. Beginner national champion is an even bigger joke.

jimbo said...

Oh yeah, I forgot that using a series to crown state champion also rewards the promoter by making every race important. Although perhaps if there was a one day championship race at the end of the series, those who are out of the series contention might do more races to stay tuned up for the one day.

BIGWORM said...

All valid points, over at Silk's page, too. As for sacrificing family, driving time etc., I still think that that is part of the game. The guy who dedicates the most to the title, gets the title. It's not The "Fastest Guy in Florida" title. The state champion may not be the fastest on every given day, but he or she had the stamina to persevere. We see top athletes make decisions about their title chases every year when olympic selection is up for grabs. Pursuing olympic hopes may compromise national hopes. National hopes may compromise world cup hopes. Where is it written that the big titles should be readily obtainable for every athlete? Big titles require big commitment. I truly feel that Ryan is probably the fastest guy in the state, the majority of the year, and it sucks that he's wasted from chasing national points, but he made a choice. We already know he's amazing, but now he's got bigger fish to fry. While it would be cool for him to be state champ, I feel that he's beyond that level, now.

As for beginner champions, I hear ya. Speaking as the GA State Clydesdale champ, my award was nothing more than an attendance award. I was nowhere near the pace of the top guys, when they showed. My point of view with this whole argument is in terms of the expert/pro class. It even starts getting a little grey when you consider the age grouper expert classes.

It absolutely rewards the promoters when a series is in place, but why shouldn't it? The Berger's make their living as promoters. Silk and I chatted about this, too. Honestly, it doesn't matter if you called the series the Florida State Doo Wop Ditty Series, I'd still have more respect for the series guys. That's just my opinion. If the gripe is with the promoters having the Championship moniker is the argument, then someone should step up and promote a one day State Championship race. I don't know the rules, but I assume they have to apply for that title moniker each year. At least it used to be that way. Beat 'em to the punch, and they can rename to the Florida State Cup Series, or some other such cool acronymy name.

RickySilk said...

Yeah I think xc champs should be based on age. junior, open, masters and something for the old folks. You want a shot at overall champ you race open otherwise you race your age group. The way marathon nationals does it.

I agree on the perseverance, commitment, etc but I feel if you're riding for a champ (series or single day) you've already demonstrated all these things in training. The days you rode in the foul weather, the days it hurt bad and you wanted to cut it short but didn't and the days you didn't want to ride at all but did. Oh and all the times you got crap for being too regimented... heheh.

jimbo said...

Ok, how about this. Is there any track and field athlete who would rather win any seriers than an Olympic Gold? A series cannot compete with the excitement of a single day event. Look at the attendance through the state series. It almost always dies off at the end as those who have no chance (almost everyone) loses interest. In last years series almost every title was wrapped up before the gun of the final race, barring a dnf by the leader. There may have been 4 or 5 guys who could have won on that day, but with no chance at a title why bother?

Sports is all about excitement. A final race that decides nothing is about as boring as it gets both for the winner and the rest.

Last year when I won the cross title, I beat a guy who didn't lose any other race during the year. He was the series champion, I was the state champion. I can understand respect, but a one day championship means you lay it all on the line. It was an exciting race, much more exciting that if my victory over him meant nothing other than he would have one 2nd place on his series points (which would get dropped anyway).

longshanks said...

You guys make valid points. The US-CUP is already adding a 1-day championship to their series championship, which may be a good starting point for other promoters to follow.

The problem with only having a one day championship is that it will take sand-bagging to another level, if offered to all categories.

I agree with all of you.

BIG JIM said...

I'm just a loser who tried to be the GSCS Beginner champion and failed at that. I'm going to jump out my window now.

Anyway, a series is just too much. Just ask my wife. Two or three qualifiers to make it into the championship race then one guy takes all.

Double Nought Seven said...

I undertsand the arguments, a series champion is one thing, the actual State champion should not b tied into it. I concur with Jimbo's post and was actually going to state this another way. You did not race for the state champion, you raced for the "Berger" trophy in which those who attempted to travel around and attend all of his races, (bonus point TT's) help him make his living. I don't begrudge him for being a promotor nor making a living, but remember the days of 500 racers showing up and if you placed you got a fifty cent made in China medal? No, I have never won one, but if that is what was handed to me as a Sport or beginner rider I would give it back. Gotta get on a plane, Peace Out out

Billy said...

I'm being drawn out to post this. I agree with Bigworm. A lot of people can (and do) ride their local course and clean house. Winning in a series format is far more prestigious.

Sure, a series means you have to trek all over the state at a cost, but it also promotes getting out there and riding the other trails. I always liked going somewhere and have everything marked out when it's foreign.

And, if you really want to be addressed as the '09 Gainesville Race Champion 1) I'm sure people will comply and 2) there's still a medal you can strut and go home a winner.

To me, being a "champion" of anything isn't a 1 day hip shot. It's proof of consistency and commitment.

Now that I read Silk's blog, it sounds like he agrees with everything except that some chump could have a good day and win it all. d'oh!

RickySilk said...

Billy a state champs course would rotate every year. The series would still exist but a single race would be designated as the state championship. While the winner of the series would have a bag of booty and a plaque... same as it is now. Same weekend every year would be best so everyone knew when it was.

Like 007 said... as long as someone's livelyhood is attached, it will always be an 8 race series. Anyone who doesn't like that will just have to accept it.

BIGWORM said...

I really don't think the promoter's benefits should be weighed in this debate. The question is whether a series or single race is more indicative of a champion. You are right, however, that the promoter who has the rights to the moniker will choose in their own personal favor. But as I said earlier, step up and apply for the title rights, if it really bothers you.

RickySilk said...

The champ should be one of the series races. Trying to fit another race in with the existing 8 races would be tough on the racers trying to do the series and probably create a lot of bad feelings which definitely isn't worth it. Kinda underhanded and disrespectful to the Bergers. Sport should grow with happiness and excitement. Couldn't happen without the Bergers onboard. Would be cool if they would try it one year though.

Unrelated, Kent just dropped off new wheels. 650 front 740 rear with valves and tape. SNAP!!

I'm thinking title of Florida State Champion probably doesn't get much respect anyway so in the end does it even matter? Maybe for the young guys seeking sponsorship help.

Now I got some tires to seal up.

Mark said...

The Olympic Gold arguement is invalid, because you could rebut with: AMA (motocross, supercross, arenacross, supermoto, road, etc), Nascar, football, baseball, etc, etc. You kinda have to forget about the paid pros and how they do it. Their style is obviously influenced by money. Now, for a one day versus a series for the amateur racer championship??!!?? Have both. A true Florida State Champion of mountain bike racing should not only be able to travel to all of the races and consistently place well; they should be able to demonstrate a positive influence on the sport locally. A "fastest MTB'er in FL" should be able to go out on any given day and lay down the smack on the opposition. I think a one day race would be fun and very powerful. And I think the winner would most likely be very fast and clearly be strict with training/riding/nutrition. However, I think it takes a true competitor to win a series. One that competes the best.