No good deed goes unpunished

I’m not a big fan of all of the prep sports coverage in the Twin Cities media, but the last two “I wish I had that story” stories have been from that genre.

The most recent is today’s compelling story from the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand about cross-country skier Libby Ellis, who is ranked #2 in the state but hadn’t competed in enough races to quality for the state races, because she’s been competing overseas.

And so her competition — South High — “threw together a last-minute competition in the subzero darkness at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday that allowed a jet-lagged Ellis to compete — and win — the Section 6 individual title on Wednesday.”

It’s the one thing that has saved prep sports from massive funding cuts: The assertion that sports still has the capacity to teach something to kids.

As usual, the greatest show in town is the comments attached to newspaper stories on Web sites. In this case, there was the expected appreciation that sportsmanship is still alive.

And then there was this:

Yes, I agree it was fantastic for the South coach to arrange this impromptu meet, but I don’t get why they would bend-over-backwards for an egotistical person like this. Who are these “coaches” anyways? Before jet-setting across the globe to compete in international races, it might be a good idea to make sure you have your ducks in a row at home (i.e. keep track of races participated)! Before they edited the story, they reported that she had missed all but 2 races due to illness and international travel. It’s unfortunate that a lesson couldn’t have been taught here… instead she gets bailed-out and will probably expect others to go to extremes to cater to her needs in the future.

The reaction to what is a sweet story of sportsmanship raises the question: Is it possible to agree on anything in the age of the Internet?

  • Joel

    I don’t believe we as a people have ever really been all that agreeable with each other; the internet just provides us the opportunity to more easily demonstrate our disagreeableness.

  • New Yorker writer David Denby has written a book on the subject. It is called “Snark”. Here he is on Good Morning America.

  • Lucie Amundsen

    This story gave me a very rare emotional response to a sports piece. As I read in the paper this morning, I already could hear the “haters” out there typing their venom. But I’m choosing to love the story anyway and not go looking for any elusive men behind the curtain.

    Frankly, right now I need a little proof that there are great people out there.

  • Richie

    Why do we have to resent success?

    Alhough this reminds me of the softball player who blew her knee rounding the bases on a home run and the other team carried her around the bases.

  • melvin hoke

    The South High athlete knows how to “work the system” and in this sense is a resourceful person who will most certainly get ahead in this competitive culture. More broadly, competitive sports are often an excessive and obsessive focus in some American high schools, at the expense of recognition for academic achievement, This misplaced emphasis is especially problematic in Minnesota schools that can barely achieve a 33% pass rate on state tests on math and reading.

  • Joel, you’re clearly an idiot.

    I’m kidding! Just trying to be disagreeable.

    We all have relatives who like to be contrarians. The internet certainly makes it easy to read those people’s opinions. I do think Bob’s question about whether we are able to agree on anything in the Internet age is interesting.

    As a journalist, I find that many people have a hard time with any idea of “TRUTH.” Everything is filtered through their own worldview, and so the concept of truth falls apart. It makes this job frustrating at times, because if people aren’t willing to accept that there is truth, then why bother trying to learn new things and share them?

  • bsimon

    Jason’s comments remind me of the Anne Appelbaum column in today’s WaPost. She was in London the other day when a snowstorm shut down the city. Her point was that Londoners haven’t seen significant snow in 18 years, and perhaps have forgotten how to deal with something the rest of us regard as a normal part of existence.

    In the case of the cross-country skiers, perhaps some of the more opinionated critics have suffered in the past due to special treatment for others. If their perception is that those others didn’t deserve special treatment, its easy to see how they’d approach this story with a similar attitude. I think its more telling that Ms Ellis’s competitors are the ones that took the initiative to ensure that they would face the best competition at upcoming meets. That says a lot about how much they value their own efforts and work in preparation for the competition.

  • Joel


    I don’t think it’s a matter of people having “a hard time with any idea of ‘TRUTH,'” they just have their own idea of what truth is (quantifiable vs. idiological for example).

    As you and bsimon said, it’s a matter of one’s viewpoint.

    How’s that? I was being disagreeable AND agreeable at the same time!

  • Bob Moffitt

    If you go to the comments section of the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press for entertainment, you won’t be disapointed, Bob.

    However, if you are searching for signs of intellegent life, you may be in for a long search…

    Now, the News Cut comments, on the other hand…