If Championship Boxing can have multiple titles for multiple fighters than why not Handball?
As reported earlier, the current or former (take your pick) President of the USATH, Mike Hurdle, has already announced a National Championship in Georgia to take place in May over Memorial Day weekend. The USOC has now announced that they will be hosting an Open Championship in Houston at the end of April. So this begs the question, which one is the real championship? But perhaps, the better question is, does it really matter?
After Mike Hurdle informed us of the USATH Championships, I started a running email dialogue on the topic with him. In particular, I questioned the format of the tournament (over 5 days), the timing (Memorial Day Weekend) and the location (Georgia). Basically, my points were that this was too significant of a time commitment over a major holiday and that the announcement’s flavour was a little too parochial in my book.
Mike’s response was that the intent was to move beyond the “Beer Hall Nationals” mentality and to have a higher quality, elite level tournament in which the teams will have an opportunity to rest. Additionally, he emphasized that the focus is on the Junior Divisions and he anticipates a lot of youth participation from the local area- hence the Georgian flavour of the announcement. Mike also pointed out that the Condors would probably even send a team to the “Beer Hall Nationals” that the USOC is subsidizing.
Well, my own personal perspective, is that it sounds like Mike Hurdle is setting up a nice tournament in Georgia and he should be strongly commended for the Junior Division focus. I also like the format over what has been traditionally done at US Nationals in the past. I would be hard pressed to make that kind of time commitment now, but if I was a younger, more dedicated athlete that’s the tournament I would go to if I thought it was going to be well attended. Which is the crux of the matter. The US, unfortunately, is probably not quite ready for a format like this. Maybe next year, but not this year as tumultuous as it has been. I expect that this USATH Tournament will be “National” in name only. Teams will have a choice on what to do. Some might even go to both, but I’d expect that most teams will vote for the smaller time commitment, smaller dollar expenditure and the traditional format.
So to answer my rhetorical questions… The real National Championship will be the one with the best National representation. And does it matter? No, not really.