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Blurring the Lines Between Levels

March 16, 2000|DAVE DESMOND

When a junior varsity defeats a varsity, is it on the level? If so, which level?

Those questions arose last week, when Hart High's junior varsity softball team defeated three varsity teams at the Hart tournament.

Some assumed those results didn't count as varsity games. That assumption was wrong, according to Southern Section officials.

They do count.

Count the 4-3 upset of Highland, the No. 5-ranked team in the region.

Count the victories over Granada Hills and Santa Monica, and the loss to Ventura, too.

Count the statistics, count the at-bats, count the earned runs.

And count me among those who disagree with the Southern Section's policy to recognize such events as official varsity games.

Yes, Hart has an excellent JV team. Judging by its performance, it possibly ranks among the region's top 10 teams, at any level.

As a Santa Clarita resident, I'm proud of the girls at one of my neighborhood schools.

But a line needs to be drawn.

One exists between the high-school and college levels, another between college and pro, and another separating varsity and junior varsity. Any crossover event between levels is usually called an exhibition . . . or an NCAA infraction.

Would the NCAA recognize a perfect game pitched by a college All-American against a champion high school team? No.

So, if an 18-year-old varsity player hits seven home runs in a game against a 14-year-old junior varsity pitcher, should that go down in the books as a section record? What about against a 13-year-old member of a freshman team?

Of course not. So statistics should not be recognized if the 13-year-old routs the varsity team.

There are probably 20 college basketball teams that could beat the Clippers. But if they did, they would not be awarded a victory in the NBA standings.

Of course, the Clippers would never put themselves in such a no-win situation.

But neither would any of the teams that lost to Hart's junior varsity softball team. Those teams entered a varsity tournament with the expectation of playing varsity teams. It wasn't their fault they were matched against a junior varsity.

This situation is not without precedent.

Buena's junior varsity girls' basketball team did well last December in the Fillmore tournament. Alemany routed Long Beach Wilson's junior varsity in another girls' basketball tournament.

Those statistics counted. Sort of.

The victories and losses counted on each team's record, but Assistant Commissioner Bill Clark of the Southern Section said no victories against junior varsity teams would be recognized for a team seeking entry into the playoffs as an at-large team.

I call that a ground-rule double-standard.

Either it counts or it doesn't.

I expressed this opinion to a Hart booster last week, while her junior varsity was a few feet away, beating its third varsity team.

She asked me what kind of message we would send junior varsity players if we told them their games don't count.

Here's the message:

Be optimistic about your future. Until the future arrives, however, your moral victories should outnumber your varsity victories.

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