JAY DAVIS: Proposed changes will be better for only the few

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I fear that something is being lost in South Dakota high school sports. Year by year we are losing the spirit of competition.

Not in the sense that you may think. It is not the student/athletes. They are fine. Their desire to compete is as strong as it has ever been.

What is going by the wayside is the opportunity for our youth to have accomplishments. It seems that efforts to assure that the best teams get as far as possible in the postseason is taking away chances for kids to win somethingon which they can hang their hat.

I suppose I had better back up a second here.

I started noticing this shift in football. Back in 2007, the Tigers defeated Stanley County before losing the Groton in the semifinals. The win over Stanley County gave the Tigers the Region 4 championship. It was something to hang their hat on. Move ahead to 2010 and the Tigers were the Class 11B runners-up. They did not win a region title that year, because that title had been eliminated. There was one less plaque for a successful team to win.

Now basketball is becoming ever changing in the postseason. The Tigers were the District 11A champions. They will never be that again as districts have been eliminated and the teams will go straight to the regional competition. Once again, a milestone has been eliminated. The first step of the postseason, the goal of beating your closest rivals and being crowned with a title has been stricken from the books.

We haven’t even played the first year of region-only postseason and there are folks out there already attempting to have things watered down even more.

Here is the concept. Teams would start in region play, but when the competition gets down to two teams, there would be a reseeding with a sister region. Here’s an example. Our Region 6A would be paired with Region 5A. Let’s say Mobridge-Pollock and Cheyenne-Eagle Butte are in the finals. The Tigers have 45 power points and the Braves have 42. In Region 5A, Wagner has 46 power points and Parkston has 43. There would be no Tigers vs. Braves for the 6A title. The four-team field would be reseeded with Wagner number one, the Tigers number two, Parkston three and Cheyenne-Eagle Butte four. Now the finals would be Parkston vs. Mobridge-Pollock and Wagner vs. Cheyenne-Eagle Butte. What used to be region championship games would become state qualifying games.

Someone is missing some important points here. This is not the NCAA. This is high school basketball in a rural state. This is kids who have goals and dreams. The old way was not broken, but people decided to fix it anyway. Now they are trying to fix it some more.

But what are they fixing? It looks to me like they are fixing the tournament to favor the few. This is about trying to make sure that a team like the 1985 Tigers never does what it did again. It’s about taking the Cinderella Story and throwing it in the bonfire with the other banned books.

I’m sure there are more than a few out there who will say, “We are just trying to get the best eight teams in state to state tournament!” Guess what? That’s never going to happen no matter how much you try to sway the process. The best way was already in place. Having teams compete to win the district and then the region against their closest and strongest rivals made for heart-stopping drama and wrote stories and created memories.

In 10 years, someone will ask, “Which team did the Tigers beat to get to state in 2013?” The answer will be quick. “Why, we beat Cheyenne-Eagle Butte in two overtimes in the district and then took it to Miller in the region!”

Let’s say the Tigers make it to state again this upcoming season. In 11 years, someone will ask, “Which team did the Tigers beat to get to state in 2014?” The answer will be, “You know I don’t remember. It was Bon Homme or West Central or someone like that.”

This new concept would not be a change for the better.

 

 

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