After reading young Mr. Bowers' opinion in Sunday's paper about the Jan. 24 wrestling match between Fort Mill and Rock Hill high schools, I could not, in all good conscience, bite my tongue.
I am a graduate of the class of 1963 at RHHS, and I was there on Jan. 24 from the first junior varsity match to the last varsity match, including the last two forfeits. I can understand Mr. Bowers' intensity over the competitiveness between the two schools, as I was yelling just as loud as anyone else. But I was yelling for Fort Mill, as I have a vested interest in that team. However, intensity and school loyalty can sometimes cloud one's judgment.
Therefore, I would like to try and clear up some of Mr. Bowers' clouds. Here are some of the quotes from his letter:
1. Coach Chris Brock's decision to forfeit the last two matches "was very selfish and dishonorable."
2. Coach Brock "thinks it is more important to win than to compete."
3. Coach Brock's decision "was a poor example of sportsmanship and taught his own wrestlers the wrong lesson"
4. "The act was despicable and heartbreaking for the Rock Hill seniors"
5. "The real loser was the coach who thumbed his nose at the Rock Hill seniors."
As to the first quote, evidently, Mr. Bowers has no idea of what a coach's job is with regard to his team. The coach's job is to make the best decisions he can to ensure the best outcome for his team. I have only spoken to Coach Brock once, but I would be willing to bet a pretty penny that his decision had nothing to do with the fact that it was "senior night" at RHHS or that the last two matches were with senior wrestlers.
Out of reach
I think Coach Brock looked at the match as being out of reach for RHHS and decided not to take a chance on getting either school's wrestlers injured when the playoffs were less than a week away. It would have been dishonorable to his own team if one of his wrestlers had sustained an injury that kept him out of the playoffs.
Now for the second quote: If a coach gets into coaching to just be competitive, he won't be coaching at any level above T-Ball for very long. If you don't believe that, just try reading The Herald's sports page or watching ESPN at the end of any sports season.
Number 3: I guess poor sportsmanship is like beauty -- it is in the eye of the beholder. I think it was Coach Cain Beard who got docked team points by the referee for unsportsmanlike conduct. And the tantrum that one senior, who received a forfeit, threw was more unsportsmanlike than any other action I saw the whole night, including Coach Beard's. As for teaching his wrestlers the wrong lesson, the only lesson learned by this decision in my eyes is that when the battle is won, save your troops for the next battle.
Numbers 4 and 5 can be addressed together. I don't think Coach Brock's decision had anything at all to do with the fact that the last two matches were with seniors at RHHS. It was a decision made in the best interest of his team to save his wrestlers for the playoffs instead of risking injury that could have kept them from competing when individual wins really start to count.
I think Coach Brock made a very sound decision, and I think that if Mr. Bowers were to go to Coach Beard and ask him if he would have made the same team decision, given the same circumstances, I think he might be surprised to find that the decision was not so "selfish or dishonorable".
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