Thursday, February 07, 2013


There’s something about a lost tournament. JV cancelled Scarsdale this morning. Given that this was the last high school invitational of my year, plus one of my favorite events because of the Varsity judging Novices aspect, plus most of my friends are there to hang out with, it’s a real loss.

It’s not the first cancelled tournament ever, of course; not even the first one this year. We lost the inaugural Vassar event (although no doubt O’C was going to refer to it as Vassar XIII or something because they did have something back in the past) and we lost a quarter of the Bump tournament attendees, both thanks to Sandy. We lost a lot of meeting time as well. As far as I’m concerned, this is the worst year ever to have been a novice Sailor, and maybe a novice anything.

In the past, Bump has been cancelled, as have Lakeland and Byram Hills. Lexington has been seriously battered and kicked but always managed to pull through. Harvard has stranded people in Boston (which is like hell only with a funnier accent) for upwards of a week thanks to blizzard conditions. Princeton and Columbia have run during apocalyptic weather events costing them most of their entrants. Schools like Monticello, in the upper reaches of the state, get grounded as often as not when their buses can’t take them to tournaments that are otherwise under way. And more than a few tournaments have shut down early to accommodate a mass exodus in deteriorating conditions. One year everyone got stranded at Bump for a second unexpected night; everybody housed twice, but then again, they were all snowed in anyhow, so what else were they going to do?

If you’re simply attending events, these disruptions are, well, disruptions. But if you’re running an event, it’s a real shock to the system. Setting up a tournament takes a couple of months of serious commitment. You’re organizing parents and judges and runners and registrants and meals and housing and buses and trophies and snacks and concessions and tab rooms seemingly nonstop. Maybe a given tournament doesn’t have all of those aspects, but most have most of them. You worry about everything. Will people sign up? Will you get a good hired pool? Will you get the food order right? Will you get the rooms in the buildings? Will registrants start harassing you from day one (plenty do)? Will there be a building emergency (one Bump was postponed due to a water main break right before round one, that stopped the toilets from flowing, while one event at the Bronx was marked by toilets overflowing—you can’t win with toilets)? Will there be illness or an accident? Will there be damage in the grammar school? Will there be theft, with students or judges (yes, judges) riffling through the teachers’ desk? The white boards, the student projects. The greenhouse effect of too many adolescents together for too long. Fender benders in the parking lot.

When something happens, one handles it the best one can. But when nothing happens, as in, no tournament at all, the adrenaline you’ve been storing up, the series of problems you’ve already solved, the angst you’ve been churning… It all just floats off into the ether. You wake up that morning and look around and, damn, there better be fifty feet of snow on the ground! And then you have this couple of days when you were expecting to be at your most engaged, managing everything that can be managed, and you’re sitting around eating a bowl of Cheerios and realizing that there really isn’t anything worth watching on Netflix Instant, or at least nothing to take your mind off that fact that about now you should be getting round 3 out.


Been there, done that. My condolences to JV and the Scarswegians (it’s not just the coach who gets all geared up for these things; teams that run tournaments engage every bit as much of themselves into pulling it off with an aplomb that proves they deserve to have had it in the first place; some, including historically the Scarswegians, manage to pull it off). They all have no particular place to go this weekend.


1 comment:

Jon Cruz said...

On the positive side, the "greenhouse effect" description is an incredible contribution to our debate vocabulary.