Talk with D-Rok
At all levels there will be many teams who have seasons that leave much to be desired. The question often comes up after one of those seasons, was that a bad season or was it a bad team?
Being a fan has a funny way of making us forget simple facts. One of the elementary laws of competitive sport is that for every win, there has to be a loss. Certainly it is possible for a team to win nearly all their games but in order for that to happen, their opponents will have to take losses. A loss doesn’t necessarily make a team bad. If a team loses more games than it wins, however, does that make automatically make it bad?
In my opinion that becomes a possibility but it’s not automatic. Other factors can negatively impact a season for a team.
Coaching turnover, injuries and off-the-field tragedies are three factors that can contribute to a poor season. While all these things don’t ultimately condemn the squad to wear the “Scarlet Letter” of a bad team, the quickest path to a bad season is to field a bad team.
Characteristics of a bad team include a low skill level, insufficient communication and inadequate depth. The variations in a team’s roster from one season to the next at the prep sports level can be significant as well.
Another simple truth that we can forget is the fact that every calendar year, another class graduates from high school. Those graduates may take with them a wealth of talent that the incoming freshman class may not be able to replace. Certainly there is experience lost.
There are other factors that prep sports teams deal with that include academic eligibility issues and sports that share seasons competing with one another for a limited amount of athletes.
Another simple fact that we can forget as fans is that one season is not eternity, although in the midst of it, it can feel that way. It’s completely possible for a team to recover from a bad season and make gains in the next. The great thing about rock bottom is that there’s nowhere else to go but up.
A locally relevant example of this truth is Keota boys’ basketball. This year the team qualified for the state tournament. Before that it had been a string of 25 consecutive years without an appearance.
Finally, there is a dynamic that must be considered when trying to make the decision between bad season or bad team for prep sports. We must remember that these are games for kids. Winning is important but not paramount. More important for the young people is that they enjoy their time and form good habits that will make them successful adults.
Conversations can and should be had regarding the debate between bad season or bad team in professional sports. They are a business. In prep sports, however, I suggest that if you find yourself discussing the issue of bad season or bad team, perhaps you might ask yourself instead if you are a bad fan.