The scheduling for the 2013-15 two-year block is getting back to its roots, and for East Valley athletic programs, it seems like a welcome return.
With legislation passed by the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) Executive Board last week, the new sections will be smaller and there will be an increase in “freedom” games. It should contribute to more competitive equity for most high school sports beginning next year.
While enrollment gaps and a focus on geography have led to many mismatches for the past year-plus, this blast-from-the-past scheduling system could help remedy that issue with the return of the human element.
Region chairs will be selected to sort out the freedom games, much like athletic directors used to convene to hammer out the schedules.
The trade-off for the more competitive schedules may be an increase in travel costs, but that shouldn’t be a huge problem locally. There are plenty of teams within 30 minutes of each other in the East Valley, which gives schools options to find good match ups without breaking the bank.
Coaches would still prefer to schedule their own freedom games, but there is concern that both top-tier teams and bottom-feeders would not be able to find opponents.
The thinking is that a neutral-party region chair will listen to input from the coaches and athletic directors before figuring out the schedules. It was stressed in the AIA Executive Board meeting on Oct. 22 that the region chairs should communicate closely with the coaches to know exactly what they prefer.