JOLIET | The debate has gone on for several years as to whether the Illinois High School Association should do away with the third-place game in the state series in various sports.
Most say yes, including Mount Carmel baseball coach Brian Hurry. Saturday, after the Caravan fell 2-1 to Prospect in the Class 4A third-place contest at Silver Cross Field, Hurry wasted no time in expressing his feelings.
"I don't know if this is the politically correct thing to say, but they should not have this game," Hurry said. "Kids should not have to play in a game like this.
"Would any of you want to come back and play for third place?"
The answer was no and Hurry was not just saying that because the Caravan lost. He is very competitive and loves the game and his players are the same way. Center fielder Chris Sujka finished with three hits said he would have preferred to end his stellar season on Friday when the Caravan lost 4-1 to eventual state champion Lyons Twp.
"It was a struggle to get guys up," Sujka said. "Especially with the younger kids, they were all getting really excited to be playing (in the title) game rather than before (it). It's hard to come out and play for third place when you just got your hearts broken yesterday (Friday)."
The IHSA needs to get rid of the third-place game. I know it gives a few extra plaques, but most teams are so emotionally drained, they do not have much left. The downside is you end your season with two straight losses like Mount Carmel did. You lose Friday and you have to sleep on the loss and then come back to a nearly empty stadium and try to play. I know these are young student-athletes and they should be willing to play no matter what, but there is a line.
The NCAA got rid of its third-place game in the basketball tournament after the 1981 tournament.
Back when the IHSA sent eight teams to the state finals, if you won on Friday, you were already back on Saturday for the semifinals. That made a little more sense, though it could be taxing in basketball to come back at 6:30 p.m. and play.
Hurry said there is a good point to having the extra game.
"I had one more chance to be with my seniors and to coach them and that in itself is a joy," Hurry said. "That made it worthwhile to be around these kids one more time."
Prospect pitcher Jack Landwehr brought up a good point.
"Not many teams in the playoffs have a chance to redeem themselves after losing in single elimination," Landwehr said. "We had that chance."
True, but neither team looked that excited warming up and this was at 2:30 in the afternoon.
The IHSA should reconsider and do away with the the third-place contests.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.