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Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 7/4/2004

Whiners and losers

Out on the field, the Cal State-Fullerton players were celebrating their College World Series championship and accepting the winners' trophy. Under the stands, the University of Texas Longhorns were boycotting the ceremony rather than accept the runner-up trophy and acknowledge that they were second best.

On top of that, Texas Coach Augie Garrido was at that moment talking to his team about the importance of learning something constructive from having lost.

Oh, the irony.

It was a messy display of bad, or at least unthinking, sportsmanship which Coach Garrido's belated apology, issued days later through the university, did little to mitigate.

Without question Coach Garrido is a successful college baseball coach, the winningest of all time in Division 1. He has won the College World Series at Texas and previously at Cal State-Fullerton. But as a molder of young men, charged with helping his athletes mature into adults of character, he struck out this time.

Despite Knute Rockne's pessimistic assessment many years ago - "Show me a gracious loser and I'll show you a failure" - amateur sports should be about winning and losing with class. Texas' failure to honor tradition and return to the field in a gesture of respect for the team that defeated them is a slap at Cal State-Fullerton, and it greatly diminishes the Longhorns' otherwise great season.

But it's not just the University of Texas. It was not long ago that the NCAA's college basketball Final Four included a consolation game, pairing the two first-round losers in a contest for third place, just prior to the championship game.

Not any more. Third place wasn't deemed worth the effort.

Even the National Hockey League, whose athletes try to bash each other's heads in during the Stanley Cup finals, shake hands in a show of mutual respect when it's all over.

We don't doubt that the Longhorn players were emotionally crushed by their defeat. But when their coach was talking to them in the locker-room about taking something positive from the loss, they should have been out on the field finding out for themselves.



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