By now, the majority of us know that the FCIAC has decided to crown co-champions in boys soccer, girls soccer, field hockey and girls volleyball due to Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent postponements of games and cancellations of schools.
Before I really get started, I should also preface this column by acknowledging that there were obviously more important matters during and after Hurricane Sandy than the FCIAC tournament. The loss of life, the loss of power and the enormous amount of property damage makes a high school postseason tournament's importance pale in comparison, but these tournaments still mean a lot to the players, coaches and communities.
So with that said, let's talk sports. I'm writing this on Monday, one day before the FCIAC tournaments get back in action.
We've got three teams from New Canaan and Darien still in the hunt for an FCIAC crown: New Canaan field hockey, Darien field hockey and Darien volleyball. The swimming and diving teams will also have a chance to compete at separate FCIAC championship meets on Tuesday.
With New Canaan and Darien set to clash in the field hockey FCIAC semis, the winner will be a co-champion. The Darien volleyball team, which is in the FCIAC quarters as the top seed, will take on Ridgefield followed by the winner of Greenwich/Trumbull for the right to be FCIAC co-champions.
To a degree, I understand a desire to be the lone champion of the FCIAC. After all, who wants to share a championship, especially if you truly believe that your team was going to bring home the trophy in the championship game? In talking with coaches, athletic directors and student-athletes over the past few years, it's become apparent just how prestigious and meaningful the FCIAC title can truly be; some have even suggested that it's more special to win an FCIAC title than a state title.
Part of the reason for that is simply because of how extraordinarily difficult it is to be the last team standing in the FCIAC. Even making the tournament is a big accomplishment, and the path to the championship certainly doesn't get any smoother once the playoffs begin. And, let's be honest: The road to the championship doesn't begin at the regular season, and it goes way beyond game action. It starts in the offseason with captain's practices, time in the weight room, getting into a good mindset, etc.
For all these reasons, I can understand that when a team is this close, the last thing they may want to hear at this point in the season is that there will be two champions.
However, let's also keep in mind that this decision was made under extremely difficult circumstances. Much like I'm balancing the importance of the FCIAC tournament against more unfortunate circumstances caused by Hurricane Sandy while writing this column, the FCIAC had to consider just how important the completion of the FCIAC tournaments would be in the grand scheme of things. The difference is that I had a few days to try to word this column just right, while the FCIAC had a meeting last Wednesday to try to come up with a decision that was fair to everyone.
And "fair" is the key word here. By having co-champions, all the FCIAC has done is increased the chances of every remaining team in every sport to be recognized as the FCIAC champs. It certainly beats several of the alternatives: Either cancelling the FCIAC tournament altogether or having four (or eight in volleyball) FCIAC champions. Having no FCIAC champ wouldn't make anyone happy and having more than two champs would probably be a bit excessive.
Does having co-champs "cheapen" the FCIAC crown? I would say it doesn't at all. This is a decision that was totally out of the hands of the high school student-athletes, so winning an FCIAC championship should be just as prestigious and enjoyable for the players as it would any other season. A shared title shouldn't discredit the accomplishments of either team.
So, at the completion of the fall FCIAC tournaments, we will be left with an extra four high school teams that get to call themselves "FCIAC champions." Is that really the worst thing in the world? All-in-all, the FCIAC made the best of a difficult situation.