January 18, 2022

COLUMN: Let the record show

Those who write history books for schools have several reams of paper in front of them to go through to make sure the words used for the Trump administration, COVID-19 and Jan. 6, 2021, are accurate and appropriate. I’m not going to worry about critical race theory as racism was pretty obvious during my history education during my school years. It didn’t need a fancy title.

What I also hope will be recorded appropriately for my grandchildren to read in 50 years are sports records and awards, especially for what has happened the past couple of years during the pandemic. Virtually every sport was impacted in one way or another by the pandemic. Let me explain a few examples.

The first one that got my attention was the post-season awards for Major League Baseball after the 2020 season. Because of COVID, which prematurely ended spring training that year, a 60-game regular season started in late July. A normal regular season has 162 games. I was not in favor of any post-season awards because of how drastic the season changed, but the awards were still given.

Yes, a MLB player can look great after 60 games. But in normal situations, there are still 102 games to go. I’m reminded of former Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. During the 2010 season, he started extremely well and he had National League Cy Young potential in June. He had 16 wins through July. Getting to the coveted 20-win mark was expected, but it never happened. He finished the season with 19 wins and didn’t win the award. The 2020 Cy Young winners had five and eight wins, respectively.

Awards and records are still being broken by University of Iowa basketball player Jordan Bohannon. He started this season by breaking the record for most 3-point shots made during a career in the Big 10 Conference. But he’s on his sixth season at Iowa. The record he broke was set in a typical, four-year college career. One person told me Bohannon needed fewer games than the person who had held the record. That is true. However, the former record holder’s career was nearly done when he sat the record. Bohannon still had probably 30 more games to play.

Two years ago, Bohannon started the season but stopped playing after 10 games because of injury. He was granted a medical extension to return for another season. Then last season, and what COVID did, the NCAA allowed players to play for another season if they desired. That has what given Bohannon six years.

He also holds school records in games played, assists and free-throw percentage. I’ve watched Bohannon since his freshman year and am grateful for his contributions to the team. But he has had a unique college career and I hope Iowa fans 50 years from now will know why he has, or had, those records. Who knows what will happen in the future.

College football in 2020 was also impacted by COVID as not every team played the same number of games, largely because of COVID cases. Awards and championships were still granted.

We are just watching the effects of the newest change in sports records. Since 1978, the National Football League had scheduled 16 regular-season games for all the teams. This year, the NFL and players’ union agreed to have 17-game regular seasons. Some wondered if the extra game would give certain players an advantage in breaking a team or league season record. Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry was one of them expected to break a rushing yard record, but injury shortened his season. He is expected to return to the playoffs which start this weekend.

One football analyst said over the weekend it is only a matter of time before football fans forget the 16-game seasons, just like fans eventually forgot when the league went from 14 to 16 games.

I just hope our sports history and record writers will appropriately note what happened the past couple of years with much of sports. The future deserves it.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.