Uphill both ways

Why, more then ever, it’s time to go back to having two classes for high school state tournaments

Remember the good ol’ days?

You know, when you could go to the ice cream parlor with a nickel and people said “Mr. and Mrs.” and “gee, golly?” Or when a gallon of gas was 25 cents?

Remember when “we went to state my senior year” actually meant something?

I don’t remember any of that, especially the gas prices.

One gas bubble I can’t seem to choke down, suffering of sports heartburn while chewing on another spring of state tournament sculduggery is this concept that we need to have two trillion classes in every high school sport.


Big school, small school. Class A, Class AA. Done. Perhaps an exception for football.

The counter-argument I always have heard is, “The state tournament isn’t for you sports writers or fans looking for the next David vs. Goliath epic. This is about the kids.

Oh, wow, what a trump card. The kids!

Well, just like so many heated social issues of our day, the same slogan can be applied for both sides of the argument. My contention with the current ‘everyone-deserves-an-all-state-experience’ movement is that it’s actually doing young people a disservice (and of course, when Little Suzie’s 100-yard breaststroke state title is the equivalent of what a district championship was a decade a go, it’s ruining the entertainment value for fans, too).

By steepening the standard for state tournaments, sports’ transcendent takeaways are elevated. And that’s what really matters for kids.

Two things I’d like to point out. First of all, and this is sort of speculation, but doesn’t it irk you to imagine how we got here? Like, some high school state league bureaucrats were sitting in a room after a successful state basketball tournament back in 2001, thinking, ‘you know, if we added another class, that would mean eight more towns and their fans buying tickets, buying concessions, staying in hotels, etc.’

Then, someone else was like, “We could do that at state cross-country, too! And lacrosse!”

“There’s only 12 teams in the state that play lacrosse, Bob.”

Think about it. Nowhere else would we soften such a ridiculous money-grab with the false-comfort of, “Well, at least Tyson won’t ‘feel bad’ because, after all, he got to make a Tik-Tok video of him riding the police escort bus ride to the big city.”

Second, and more to the ethos of this piece, if the idea that adding classes gives smaller schools a chance and more athletes post-season opportunities, why stop at four or five classes? Why not six, seven, eight (…now that I type that, I feel like I’m Donald Trump in that debate clip where he warned us that if we elected Joe Biden, there would be four, five, six dollar-a-gallon gas. Hopefully, I’m not too prescient) or even nine different classes?

How about 30?

The last suggestion seems foolish, doesn’t it? You know why? What you’re feeling is the left hemisphere of your brain instantly evaluating the obvious devaluation of what it means to go to state while the right hemisphere aches and pains over why you deserve — after shlepping your kids to every single summer baseball camp imaginable for a decade when you could have been just going on nice 14er hikes or (talking to them about what they like) — to see Billy and Bobby both take Sunrise Academy for Gifted Children of Privilege (go Bobcats!!) to the 16-17-year-old Class AAAAAAAA state tournament.

“But if there’s too many classes,” you whisper to yourself in the front seat of your Land Rover (I don’t have anything against Land Rovers, really) “well, then going to state just doesn’t mean as much.”


“But if we only have two classes, then there will be some schools that might not go to state for like, 50 years.”

Now you’re really starting to understand the point.

“But…but…the children!”

It’s interesting, but the Greatest Generation, as far as I’ve been told, did just fine, and they didn’t grow up hearing the phrase “mental health.” Ironically, they probably had better mental health because of it. All of the ‘old-timers’ — the ones who grew up knowing the only chance Bagley High had of making state rested on those three Knutson brothers in the starting lineup — moved on after Cass Lake hit a three-quarter court prayer to send everyone back north empty handed back in ’51. Granted, they were deprived from vomiting onto their college resume a sloppy sports-centric stew of, “six-time all-league, three-time state participant, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA state consolation third place runner-up (whatever that means).”

Even against those odds, sports somehow found a way to cultivate a sense of perspective, work ethic and love for the game in those young men and women.

Here is where a New York Times writer might cite some Oxford study that describes how young athletes who experience failure in athletics end up attaining higher paying jobs, but the correlation isn’t that cookie cutter and these days, defending my case with science isn’t what it used to be.

Plus, this is Seder-Skier.com. If you found your way here, you probably already knew that when society waters down success, it dilutes the inherent gift of striving to attaining it. And when it comes down to it, the only real value in sports is that it serves as a training ground for young people to learn how to strive for, define, and achieve True Success.

That’s exactly why state should be a really, really big deal. Getting there should be almost impossible. Winning the whole thing, unthinkable. It should be the stuff statues get erected in the city park for. And when no. 12 gets passed on to a gangly freshmen, everyone whispers in hushed tones, “that was ol’ Graham McGavin’s number!”

It should be as mythical as walking home from school, uphill, both ways.

Published by rsederquist

My name is Ryan Sederquist.  I am a man of many passions and dreams, and this website is the outlet for many of them. I am currently teaching 5th grade remotely in the Adams12 school district in Colorado. I have been an elementary music teacher in Alamosa, Colorado, as well as a 7-12 band director at Lake County High School in Leadville, Colorado. I am also in the final, final stages of acquiring my M.S. in Exercise Science from Adams State University. In 2018-2019, we spent a year in Presque Isle, Maine as I coached the UMPI Nordic ski team. I currently live in Leadville, Colorado with my wife Christie, a special education teacher, and our border collie-German shepherd mix, Ajee. Even though it is not my full-time job, ever since I was a child, I had the desire to do one of three things professionally - pro sports, writing about pro sports, or being a radio talk show host. This website is where I pretend to do the latter two, and when I'm out pretending to do the former, I listen to podcasts, think about topics, and pursue my wild dream of someday, at some event, in either running, biking, or skiing, wearing a team USA uniform. This website contains articles, podcasts, pictures, and journal entries that have to do with my passion and involvement in endurance sports. Our flagship project is the Seder Skier Podcast, which talks mostly about nordic skiing and attempts to interview influential individuals in the ski world. I also rant about the Big 4 sports, with a lean towards Minnesota teams (Vikings, Twins, Twolves, and MN Distance Running). I sometimes try to write Sports Illustrated like 'feature' articles about athletes as well. In addition to a focus on sports, you will find the occasional article or show that discusses the intersection of theology and society ...which is ...obviously everywhere. We place these in our Skieologians podcast. The heading at the top of my homepage reads, "Search for Truth. Play with purpose. Strive for success." It is the underlying theme for my coaching philosophy, which can be downloaded from this site. Basically, I'm always looking to search for the truth in my pursuit of knowledge, whether that is knowledge regarding the best methods for waxing skis, training a quarter miler, or defending my Christian apologetic. Searching implies a dedicated pursuit for knowledge, and that is what I'm about and what this site is about, even if it is simply for providing viewers with an accurate description of a product. Play with purpose has to do with living out our passions because they are fun. I ski because its fun. I play music and teach young kids because there is joy in it. This blog is about celebrating the joy and fun that inherently exists in the pursuit of excellence and in the activities themselves. Finally, strive for success is built on the principle that true success is the realization that we gave 100% effort to become the best that we could possible be. It requires 100% in preparation, competition, reflection, mental effort, etc. If something is worth doing, I believe it is worth doing with that level of effort. Someday, I hope to race the Visma Classics - the entire season, wear a Team USA singlet, and have a job that involves writing or talking about sports or theology all day. If you know of any body I can reach out to to help me accomplish these goals, please email me at sederquistrd@grizzlies.adams.edu

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