If you are a Columbian subscriber, keep an eye out for this weekend’s editions.
And if you’re not a subscriber, you might want to pick up copies of the paper this weekend. Or even better, become a subscriber.
In Saturday’s edition, The Columbian’s All-Region football team and player of the year will be unveiled, celebrating the best in high school from Castle Rock all the way to White Salmon.
In Sunday’s edition, you can get your hands on our winter sports preview special section, highlighting boys and girls basketball teams in the region.
And unlike our fall special section, which had to be limited to just football because of some staffing shortages during the summer, the winter sports section will also spotlight other winter sports like wrestling, gymnastics, bowling and boys swimming.
That will make it the first complete season preview special section in two years. We were putting the final touches on stories for our spring special section in March of 2020, when high school sports were shut down by the pandemic.
So it feels good to offer a complete package. Again, that will be a special section inside Sunday’s Columbian.
Also, we will unveiling our All-Region slowpitch softball team soon. It is slated to be unveiled on Tuesday.
Now, about those PKs …
Watching the Portland Timbers have their season decided by a penalty-kick shootout in the MLS Cup on Saturday, I had a thought.
I have long contended that soccer’s greatest flaw is that the sport hasn’t figured out a better way of breaking a tie — particularly in a championship game — than the penalty-kick shootout.
Soccer is possibly the most team-oriented sport out there. But in its most pivotal moment, the winner is decided by a format that removes the team from play.
This fall, three of the six high school state championship soccer matches in the state were decided by PK shootout.
Now if you win those shootouts, like the Camas and Kalama girls soccer teams did this fall, you are very happy.
But if you end up on the losing end, you will feel very unsatisfied and a little bit like a victim of random chance. Just ask Timbers fans.
Now the pros can do whatever they want. But in high school play, there seems to be a very simple solution to this problem.
Now I’m generally not a proponent of co-anything. But in this case, it seems to make a lot of sense.
Ties are an inherent part of the game of soccer. A draw is an acceptable outcome, at least during the regular season.
Once play moves to the postseason, the PK shootout becomes a necessary evil because a team needs to be advanced in the bracket.
But in the championship game, that is no longer an issue.
So what’s wrong with having two state champions? I don’t think Camas or Kalama would feel any less like state champions if Issaquah and Adna could also lay claim to that title.
This isn’t everybody-is-a-winner-and-gets-a-trophy mentality. It’s soccer.
Now some might argue that would just make teams play not to lose in a title game, because they would already be state champions as long as they don’t lose.
But I don’t think that would be the case. I’ve seen time and time again a team go into the final regular-season game of the year with everything already decided — playoff berth, league title, whatever — and that team will still go out to win that final game.
That’s what players do. They compete, whatever the stake is.
And in a state championship game, I would not expect that to go away.
So if you’re OK with ties in the regular season, you should be OK with a tie in the season’s final game.
And it’s certainly better than having a champion decided by, what one soccer coach described it to me years ago, a spitting contest — only he didn’t say spitting.