KidsPost readers may have missed an interesting sports story last week.
The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), a group of 13 small colleges in Minnesota, announced it will “involuntarily remove” the University of St. Thomas by 2021. The MIAC college presidents said they are concerned with the “lack of competitive parity . . . across many sports.”
In other words, the MIAC schools kicked St. Thomas out of the conference because its teams are too good.
How good are the Tommies? Over the past 10 years, St. Thomas won about half of the conference championships in the major team sports and almost four times as many as its nearest conference competitor.
The Tommies are really good at football. Last season, St. Thomas beat three MIAC opponents by a combined score of 190-0. It was worse in 2017. That season, St. Thomas beat three MIAC opponents 244-0.
I understand how the MIAC schools feel. St. Thomas has more than 6,000 students, so it’s at least two or three times bigger than the other MIAC schools. It’s hard to compete against a school that is so much bigger.
Still, I think the MIAC’s action of kicking out a school that helped start the league almost 100 years ago is a terrible example to kids.
Sports should be a place where kids learn that if another player or team is better, then you have to work harder and try to improve. You can’t whine and complain that things aren’t fair. Or throw the other team out of the game. You have to figure out a way to get better and maybe . . . just maybe . . . beat the other team.
When I coached youth sports teams, I sometimes explained my idea of a “perfect season” to the players’ parents. A perfect season wasn’t an undefeated season.
A perfect season to me was when we had one game where we won by a lot. Everything went right, and the kids got the satisfaction of feeling they had learned some of the skills we had been practicing.
But a perfect season also included a game when the other team was clearly better and beat us handily. That experience taught the kids they had to work hard to improve.
The rest of the games in my imaginary perfect season would be close. We would win some and lose some.
Maybe St. Thomas shouldn’t play football in the MIAC. When teams are so uneven in that sport, someone could get hurt. But it seems to me by kicking St. Thomas out of all the conference sports, the MIAC presidents have denied their student-athletes the hard lesson of competing against — and maybe beating — the best.
The MIAC players may also miss out on a perfect season.