This is my favorite time of year in the area high school Winter sports season.
It’s playoffs time -- the postseason.
Actually, playoffs time is my favorite time of year during the area high school Fall sports season and the Spring sports season too.
This is the reward athletes get for a season’s worth of work. For a sportswriter, covering playoff games is like the icing on the cake after covering a pre-season and regular season’s worth of games.
The feel of a playoff game just has that special edge, beginning with the wild card round and then increasing to CIF Southern Section championship games and meets, some of which I have been fortunate enough to cover. The post-season field among area winter sports teams is a big one this year.
Thirty-plus area teams from Southern San Luis Obispo County to Northern Santa Barbara County were in the playoffs as of yesterday as wild card games in girls water polo and girls soccer took place. It’s an exciting time now.
Qualifying for “the second season,” is already a sort of victory for winter teams before they ever set foot on the pitch, hardwood or wrestling mat or get into the pool for that first post-season game. I know the thrill of having a post-season. (OK, my postseason consisted of two races in the track and field preliminaries my senior year in high school and the school mile record I set in my first postseason race, by a whopping two tenths of a second, was smashed some years later by a far superior runner. But, hey, it was a postseason. It was the high point of my life at the time, ahead of getting my driver’s license).
Congratulations to all the postseason qualifiers -- from this area and beyond.
On the darker side of sports: Now it seems that peptides, in at least one region of the world, are all the rage when it comes to PEDs.
A recent Associated Press story stated that peptides are becoming extremely popular because they stay in the system a short time and are hard to detect. In Australia, the story stated, the peptides-as-PEDs phenomenon has links to organized crime.
Sports pooh-bahs need to have a long conversation with athletes -held without the fear of punishment - to try to get to the bottom of why doping is as extensive as it is. Former dopers should be included in the conversation. “The name of the game is to win,” the late Vince Lombardi once said. “Honorably, within the rules, but to win.” A lot of people have skipped the “Honorably, within the rules,” part when it comes to winning and trying to get ahead in the sports world.
Or is the doping issue as simple as that? The NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball seasons are all too long. The Tour de France course is so grueling that I could unserstand if superbly conditioned riders needed “help,” to simply get through it. Is all the doping a selfish quest to get ahead?
A matter of survival for many because of too-long seasons and too-tough courses? A combination of both? More talking amongst the concerned parties might yield more answers.
Really?: Speculation was that the modern pentathlon was on the Internatonal Olympic Committee’s chopping block. Instead, the IOC has decided to dump wrestling, a sport which was part of the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, from the 2020 Games. Dumb, just dumb.
Back to the brighter side: These four words always spark a sort of sense of renewal. Spring training has begun.