Grind of the competition

Grind of the competition

by Eli Taylor

In the United States, college winter sports are now well underway everywhere across the country. Swimmers, basketball players,wrestlers, skiers, curlers, hockey players and many others arestepping in from the excruciating chill of the outdoors right ontosnow, sheets of ice or ferociously hot workout rooms.

By now, it is getting down to that proverbial old “crunch time”everybody hears so much about. Conference tournaments, nationaltournaments, rankings and other such vocabulary that soundsabsolutely ridiculous outside the sports community composeseverything that sits on the minds of these noble warriors.

But what does all that mean?

We’ll start at the beginning. There are these rankings that comethroughout the season and to be perfectly frank, most of them arepretty meaningless. These rankings should never be looked at asanything but a rather vague, sketchy outline of teams projectedfinishing at the end of the year. As unreliable as most of theseranking polls tend to be (take a look at the Kansas City Chiefs)they are reliable enough to gauge the teams with the greatestchance at coming home with the major prize at the end of theyear.

The next step is the conference tournament, districts,sectionals, qualifiers, and other such extraordinarily strangeterminology-that decides who is to advance on to the nationaltournament. This is the point where the season rankings are throwndirectly out the nearest open window and the athletes and theirtalents are showcased in all their glory. There are those whobelieve conference matches can be more exciting than nationaltournament matches because that mediocre athlete who hasdemonstrated only minor talent suddenly has the adrenaline pouringthrough their system to pick and roll to perfection.

The national tournament: the best and the brightest show up withdreams of glory poised on their generally brawny shoulders. It isalways a decidedly interesting juxtaposition of agony, defeat andpain with glory, honor and pride. No matter who wins or loses orwhat the scoreboard says at the end, there is one thing that neverchanges: the hours of practice, the lifelong commitment, theperpetual exertion and the emotional involvement culminate andblossom at the glorious national tournament.