“And the first round pick goes to…”
As a triathlete with a background in long distance running I am not very fluent in what I like to call “ball sports”. Basketball, football and baseball wouldn’t really be on my radar, but as they are such a huge part of American culture, I find myself learning a lot about the NBA, NFL and MLB because they mean so much to so many. What really intrigues me is the championship/draft ranking paradigm found in many of these sports. Teams that do well one year (say make into the conference finals or win the World Series) are not given an advantage over other teams the following year just because of how far they advanced. Instead teams like this often pick LAST in the draft. The rich do not get richer. Those that are on top are not then given the first overall draft pick or a player who might guarantee that the team’s success one year becomes a dynasty. What is more, teams that win the Superbowl or the Stanley Cup don’t automatically receive berths to those games the next year. How unsatisfying would a season be if we already knew in September that the reigning Superbowl champs would make it to the final game in February? Part of the beauty of football, baseball, and basketball is watching teams duke it out all season trying to get back to the big dance.
When you consider these practices, the KPR system used by the World Triathlon Corporation to rank and invite pro athletes to the World Championships in Kona becomes all the more perplexing. Not only are winners given a slew of points toward next year’s KPR, they are given a berth to the World Championship for the next five years as long as they validate their slot at one Ironman before the next Championship. An automatic berth? Isn’t that a little much? These athletes can basically “phone” in an Ironman early in the season and save their legs until Kona while the rest of the field has to battle it out at multiple Ironman races (often late into the season) to get to Kona. I wonder who’s going to do better… Someone who cruised to the finish at an Ironman in November or somebody who was fighting for points at races in March, June and August? Granting past winners a ticket to the championship after meeting so low of a bar is laughable and insures that those that were on top, stay on top. In addition to doling out these automatic qualifying slots, WTC also bestows a large amount of points to the top finishers at Kona. These points carry over to the NEXT year. Tell me another sport that does that. The reward for getting to Kona IS Kona. You made it to the World Championship! Congratulations!!! Sponsors are happy; your fans are happy. The race itself is the end goal. There shouldn’t be points awarded at Kona for Kona. As it stands Kona is a qualifying race for itself. Instead points should start again after the KPR deadline with no points awarded for the World Championship.
I am a firm believer that the number of pro slots available to male and female pros should be equal. (Find out why here.) But I’ll save that discussion for another day. In the meantime I think it’s time to revise a flawed points structure. Good luck to all the racers in Hawaii!