• The nature of competition

    There was a petition filed to prevent a certain woman player from playing in a regional tournament because that player has won several times.  The suggestion is that she may compete in the Open (aka “Mens”) Division, but she is too good for the women’s division.

    At first blush, I thought this was very unfair.  Because she wants to put in more time and hone her game to a finer point than other women, why should the rules be different for her than for others?  It smacks of the “everyone gets a ribbon” mentality America seems to have. 

    This mentality isn’t limited to this group of petitioners.  I held a team tournament with three divisions recently.  Twenty percent of the teams entered protested their ranking, wanting to be in one of the lower divisions.  Yes, moving them down gave them a better chance to win, but it gave the less talented teams a lesser chance to win.

    Last year, I offered the chance to play with and against a professional pool player.  The winner of a series of preliminary tournaments would get the honor.  Out of 1200 players listed as league players in Lincoln, only 8 tried.  “Why would I want to get beat by a pro?” was the common response I got when I asked people why they didn’t participate.

    Sometimes, it isn’t about winning.  It is about competing.  It is about doing your best and trying your hardest and failing while daring greatly.  It is about chopping that tree no matter how big it is, chipping away until it falls.

    Then I had a thought.  Doesn’t everything I think about this petition also apply to the subject of the petition?  If they are winning every time, why don’t they want to move on to a new challenge?

    To me, the fairest thing is to do away with gender divisions entirely.  Make a new competitive division for the “Casual” player.  This would make four divisions at this regional tournament:

    Casual – For players who seldom make more than 4 balls in an inning and have no runouts during leagues.  Top 5% move up each year.

    Regular – For players who can occassionally get out, but generally take several innings in each game.  Top 5% move up.

    Intermediate – For players who get out regularly and/or take few innings in each game.  Top 3% move up.

    Masters – For players who get out often.

    There aren’t any easy answers.  But I don’t like singling one player out for being “too good”.  She hasn’t broken any rules or done anything other than tried to be good.  If you are going to adjust the system for one player, you have to change it for everyone else, too.