Jumping the shark
In television, they have a phrase to describe when a series has reached a point in which it is irretrievably past its best and something outlandish has been introduced that signifies the downward spiral to come.
You’ve heard it — “Jump the Shark.”
It comes from when a once great series “Happy Days” had “The Fonz” jump over a shark on water skis — wearing his trademark leather jacket, no less. While “Happy Days” was already in decline, this episode added the exclamation point.
We’ve modified the phrase a little and now use it whenever something has lost its way or has run its course.
After the last couple of weeks, maybe the concept of the VHSL’s Spring Jubilee has strapped on the skis.
Thanks literally to some water (this time from the skies), the Spring Jubilee has been a scheduling disaster. Rain has forced numerous site and time changes, postponements and sheer inconvenience for nearly everyone involved.
As we sit here this morning, the baseball and softball championships have yet to be completed. They were moved back a week because of the weather.
Is this just a worst-case scenario or not?
Look, we understand the concept of the Spring Jubilee. You try to get everybody in the same place. Logistically, it’s easier for the VHSL and you can get cities to bid on hosting things which creates income. And obviously, it’s worth it financially to those communities to host the folks from out of town to eat at their restaurants and stay in their hotels.
But these cities don’t always have the athletic facilities needed, especially when something goes wrong.
Is this really fair to the athletes who have dedicated themselves in hopes of playing for a state title?
For an example, let’s look at the event in which a local team participated — boys’ tennis.
Late last week, Handley’s Class 4 title match against Hanover switched sites and had three different starting times over the span of two days.
Once that was finally settled, they had to play the match on three courts at Virginia Tech’s indoor facility, a fine venue. But the lack of courts (the other three at the facility were being used for girls’ title matches) altered the way both teams had played all season.
Every high school tennis match begins with all six singles clashes starting at once. Yet in the most important match of the season, that format is altered.
While it may not have affected the outcome this time (Handley cruised 5-0), it certainly could have caused some problems.
Swap out the final and insert the Judges’ semifinal win over Blacksburg in the same setting. In that match, Handley’s No. 4, 5, 6 players won quick matches to give the Judges a 3-0 lead. A nearly three-hour marathon win at No. 1 gave Handley the key point in a 5-2 victory.
If the two teams had played on three courts, Blacksburg could have led 2-0 with wins at No. 2 and 3 and that would have put extreme pressure on the match at No. 1 and those to follow. Leading 3-0 and trailing 2-0 is an entirely different scenario.
Plus, who knows how much time it would have taken since the match at the Slaughter Tennis Pavilion took about four hours.
Unlike maybe the outside fields, tennis is a sport where you know that rain will immediately make the courts unsafe and that you need backup facilities lined up and an alternative schedule ready. That doesn’t seem to be that difficult.
The bottom line is that state finals need to be held in places that not only have the best facilities but are prepared for the worst.
If that means breaking up the Spring Jubilee concept, then so be it. The athletes and their family and friends (who shell out $10 per ticket) deserve better and to not have the schedules monkeyed around with graduations having just happened or looming.
Even “The Fonz” would give that an “Ayyyy.”