Orville Higgins | Extra points for Champs records
The experts, by and large, all feel it is a done deal for Kingston College and Edwin Allen to win Boys and Girls' Championships, respectively. I see some of these analysts checking out their spreadsheets almost daily and making adjustments here and there. Some have two or three hard-cover books with Champs-related stuff that they have been compiling since the start of the track and field season.
They take the thing so seriously and look so studious that sometimes they make us 'average' journalists look lazy! Who am I to go against people who take that kind of care about every single detail? So I am going with the experts, too! KC and Edwin Allen, me seh!
I do, however, have one suggestion that I feel that ISSA could take on board. From time to time, athletes break records at Champs. There is always a buzz whenever that happens. Apart from the thrill of winning, there is always some added excitement when a record is broken.
I honestly feel that the athlete who breaks a record should benefit in some added way. How about us awarding more points to Champs record holders? If an athlete breaks the record in the final, how about five extra points for his or her school? Surely, that would give the elite athletes something special to aim for.
Some of these star athletes turn up at Champs with the certain knowledge that unless they break a leg, they will win, and, therefore, may not be inclined to push themselves. If we award extra points for winning in record times, this will give the elite athletes a special incentive to try and beat the clock, since beating the opponents is often a done deal.
I will go further. I would also give three points to an athlete who breaks a record in the heats as well. I believe this kind of quality should be rewarded. So an athlete who breaks a record in the heats and then breaks a record in the final would stand to gain eight extra points for his school. Why shouldn't that be?
Why should an athlete who runs a 'normal' time to win an event contribute the same number of points as one who smashes a record, effectively demonstrating that he or she is the best ever in that class in that event? Why shouldn't a coach who has the ability to produce quality never seen before gain extra marks for doing that?
Record breakers are treated specially and benefit from their exploits at the higher levels of track and field. Why not start it at Champs? One of the benefits of awarding these bonus points to record breakers is that it would give those analysts poring over their spreadsheets a more difficult task! Let them figure out who can break a record and who can't!
There would be some special cases, where we would have to make adjustments. In the high jump, I am not suggesting that an athlete gets five extra points every time he breaks the record. You could conceivably have a special jumper breaking the record several times in the same meet by putting up the high jump bar a little at a time for each jump. In that case, I would simply give five extra points to a record breaker in the high jump per round.
When I first raised this suggestion, there were people who suggested that coaches and athletes would try to go too hard with their athletes in the heats in order to break records with the risk that they may be burnt out by the time the final comes around.
I completely disagree.
I have never seen an athlete who breaks a record in the heats being unduly affected in the final. Then again, maybe only two or three per cent of athletes at Champs have a realistic chance of breaking a record anyway. The other 97 or 98 per cent of them would, therefore, compete as usual, simply trying to get to the final and garner points for their school.
So my suggestion would have no impact whatsoever on most of who compete. For the elite three per cent, this would give them extra motivation and an opportunity to feel that they use their star status to benefit their school in extra ways. It should not be business as usual for these once-in-a-lifetime performances.
- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS FM ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.