Football and basketball are the two highest-profile high school sports in Wisconsin–If two WIAA proposals become reality, the postseason of each will look different.
Here’s a look at the football proposal:
Having examined both, I have to say I’m in favor of one but against the other.
I’m giving the thumbs-up to football, mainly because it’s a plan that makes a lot of common sense. Basically, teams are organized into districts for the regular season and postseason…the system that’s been in use for a while in adjoining states such as Minnesota, Iowa, and Michigan. Granted, some teams will have to travel more at the varsity level than they’re currently doing, but other programs will be taking much shorter trips than they’ve been doing in the non-conference portion of their schedules. For example, in recent years, Menomonie’s had home-and-home series with Mukwonago, Oswego (IL), and Grand Rapids (MN). Chippewa Falls is hosting Cedarburg this week–the Cardinals, in the past, have traveled to and hosted Edina (MN).
The proposed football system will also allow programs to be a lot more efficient in their scouting (which will save time, miles, and money), since they’ll know exactly for which teams to prepare. It’ll also do away with teams having to play three games in the span of ten days. This year, for example, the regular season concludes on Thursday, October 22–but Level 1 of the playoffs is set for the following Tuesday (October 27), with Level 2 games on Saturday, October 31.
For those that bemoan the loss of traditional conferences (and the rivalries within those conferences), consider that the push toward football conference realignment has been driven by the schools howling about disparities in enrollment–the current conference landscape, as it pertains to football, has been changing over the years.
On the topic of howling, nothing gets certain message board posters going more than the perceived advantage of certain private schools in boys basketball–dealing with this dilemma is one motivating force behind the other WIAA postseason proposal. Is that reason enough to add another division? I say not, especially when the total number of students that take advantage of open-enrollment opportunities at public schools exceeds the total number of students attending private schools (according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.)
There are plenty of other reasons the idea of adding another division doesn’t make a lot of sense. With just over 500 high schools taking part in the WIAA baseketball tournament series, crowning five champions each season would only serve to dilute the entire product–especially when you eliminate four teams from the largest division.
I’m fine with the idea of opening the state tournament to more teams–so why not revert to three divisions, but allow eight teams in each division to advance to state?
As we get closer to basketball season, the News 18 Sports department will have a lot more opportunities to talk with local coaches about the proposal. We previewed fourteen different high school football teams prior to this season, and only one coach said he was opposed to the WIAA’s football proposal.
What kind of feedback will the WIAA receive directly from its member schools? That process starts in a matter of weeks, when Area Meetings begin in September. Two local meetings are scheduled: Tuesday, September 29 at Black River Falls, and at Rice Lake, Wednesday, September 30.
I’m not sure how much public opinion will factor into any WIAA decisions, but we’re curious what fans think. Feel free to post your comments below.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on August 31, 2009