The board of directors at the Arizona Interscholastic Association has been ripped for many things over the last couple years, and deservedly so.
The current power points system is a mess, and what’s worse, the old way worked fine.
There is also no excuse for not having the fall and winter sports championships broadcast on TV. Maybe the AIA wasn’t happy with the offer from the local stations, and maybe they would have lost money with the way everything was formatted, but those negotiations should have dragged on until a compromise was found.
The players deserve that much.
With that being said, credit must be given where it is due, and the AIA has hit a home run with the new realignment proposals.
Even though the division splits in 4A and 5A have rewarded more champions in the last three years, it’s clear that most feel the titles are watered down.
Whether the AIA’s proposal to reduce the tournaments came from a financial or competitive standpoint, the right decision was made.
Now, if the proposal is approved, there will be five football state champions like it used to be.
“It’s what I consider the Little League mentality and everyone is happy,” said Highland girls basketball coach Miner Webster, long an opponent of the division splits. “It had watered everything down. It was pathetic. (Now), it’s special. You win, you’ve done something, not just beat a few teams. I’m totally for it.”
It also makes sense to redistribute each division depending on the sport because the number of teams will not have the same balance. The Tolleson school district, for instance, has already decided to eliminate some sports, and Tucson may do the same.
With this in mind, it allows each sport to be formatted individually, instead of regions dealing with a school or two without a particular sport. That would have been a major headache.
One of the bigger beefs with the plan is the elimination of regions and replacing them with sections, which would be roughly three times the size of current regions.
Hamilton football coach Steve Belles said that a region championship can be the greatest moment of a kid’s life. But again, that gets back to the premise of giving everyone a trophy.
I like the idea of expanding the tournament to 24 teams. A section championship won’t likely be had for teams in traditionally weaker programs, but a berth in the postseason would still be quite an accomplishment.
The addition of sections also makes it better for scheduling and power points because teams aren’t stuck playing each other four or five times.
The schedule is much more spread out.
“Somewhere there has to be a balance and I think this is closer,” Chandler athletic director Dave Shapiro said.
With hundreds of schools across the state dealing with different issues, a grand proposal like this one will never be universally accepted.
But everything about it makes sense, from a competitive and financial standpoint.
And with the economic realities nowadays, that’s the most you can expect.