Boys Basketball Finalists All Deserve State Titles

UIL state tournament canceled
The Timberview boys' basketball team heads to San Antonio this weekend to compete in the state finals. Photo courtesy of Mansfield ISD

Boys State Basketball Tournament Suspended, But There are still Champions

Sometimes the best route to victory is having no champion at all. Or, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

The first statement is an original from me. The second, anyone who has ever watched “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” will recognize.

But no matter how you say it, the University Interscholastic League did the right thing by suspending the Boys State Basketball Tournament this past weekend. Sure, it resulted in lots of heartbreak and sadness, but better being sad over not playing – or watching – the games as opposed to crying because someone in the family died because of the deadly COVID-19 strain of Coronavirus that has forced its way into everyone’s lives.

Some have argued that the games could have been played in an empty arena – and it is true, they could have been. But the players in those games leave that arena and go home to families, which not only include siblings and parents, but grandparents who are older and more susceptible to the disease’s deadly effects.

“I’m not worried about myself or my players, but we would have grandparents coming to the game,” Duncanville coach David Peavy said, noting that his own mother is in the age group that is greatly affected. “These large gatherings, probably not a good thing right now.”

Honestly, why the UIL even allowed the tournament to begin is a mystery. It’s held in San Antonio, where 11 cases have now been confirmed, and there is a federal quarantine at Lackland Air Force Base.

Not to say the Alamodome is the Petri dish that a cruise ship could be, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize putting a lot of people in a confined space in a city where the virus has made itself comfortable might not be the best of ideas. With the NBA suspending its season a couple days earlier, the NCAA canceling its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and spring sports, the NHL following suit, and more, couldn’t the UIL have made its decision BEFORE playing the Class 1A and 3A semifinals Thursday?

It is sad that local teams Duncanville and Mansfield Timberview might not get to defend their 2019 state championships, or that powerhouse Lancaster might come up short of a title because of an unseen opponent (the UIL noted it is trying to figure out a time when it can resume the tournament, but the suspension is indefinite). Still, ultimately, the UIL made the right decision.

Stunned & Disappointed

“We are very proud of this team. Everything was happening so fast yesterday (Thursday),” Timberview coach Duane Gregory said. “We were stunned and disappointed at the news, but as one of only four teams remaining, we were glad to be in a position to be stunned and disappointed. We understand and respect the decisions that were made and hope everyone stays healthy.”

Call it a wild suggestion – but trust me, I’ve had wilder. Why not give state championship trophies to every team that reached the state tournament? Of course, it will not replace winning an actual championship, but these are extraordinary times, so why not make an extraordinary gesture?

And no, it’s not the same as a participation trophy, nothing against those. These teams have already proven themselves champions, and while they would rather make history in other ways than they have been forced to involuntarily do, what’s the harm in recognizing their greatness in a time when we could all use a little spirit lifting?

Now, let’s all join forces and work to win a much bigger contest against an opponent set out to defeat us in the worst of ways.

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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters