Pass a transfer rule already
Pick a number: 10 miles, 15 miles, 25 miles, 50 miles, 100 miles, whatever. Just pick a radius for jurisdiction. Make it 25 miles in the Valley and 100 miles outside the Valley. Whatever. Give something a shot. The failure of a proposed transfer legislation during last spring’s Legislative Council meeting was not only shocking, but narrow-minded on the part of many. Yes, it’s become a much bigger issue in the Valley and Tucson than the rest of Arizona, and yes, an appeals process would have likely increased some paperwork and administrative duties for athletic department staff already mostly overwhelmed. But some council voters rejected the proposal based on constituents who said it wasn’t an issue where they reside, and thus, why have such a rule? Others couldn’t agree on a specific mileage standard of enforcement from one school to another. See the bigger picture. Stop worrying about the details, and either make an amended plan, bring back the previous idea, or let everyone move around freely however they wish for four years of high school, and stop complaining about a “teenage free agency.” There’s at least one Legislative Council meeting per school year (more if the Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board President and council members agree upon special sessions) — it’s not as if legislation details are set in stone for the rest of eternity.
Reduce state tournament ticket prices
This gets tricky, because paying for security, staffing and especially facilities (especially the big football, basketball and baseball venues) are expensive and not necessarily set up by the AIA. And, of course, costs for everything escalate but people’s income doesn’t (or worse). Still, where can a middle ground be found, because it’s admirable the AIA wants to give kids a once-in-a-lifetime experience playing at University of Phoenix Stadium, Arizona State, University of Arizona, Jobing.com Arena or the spring training stadiums, but its pricing families out of the buildings. Even the Division I and II championship games don’t fill one-third of college and pro venues. It’d be a bitter pill to swallow in places, but perhaps more intimate stadium/arena settings would not only boost the atmosphere, but cost a few dollars less for both Arizona’s high school governing body and the people (directly and indirectly) it serves.
Put two new schools in football championship games
This has nothing to do with Hamilton, Mountain Pointe, Chaparral, Saguaro and Queen Creek who all deserve their respective football program accolades, but merely hope for a shakeup. Nobody should apologize or take a back seat to getting to the ‘Ship, as both the Div. I title game and University of Phoenix Stadium is now oft-labeled, but some new blood — programs that haven’t been to this precipice in years, decades, or ever — would be interesting. The reality is Hamilton and Mountain Pointe will again be top contenders next year, but forget reality for once. Wouldn’t a pairing involving Chandler, Highland, Basha, Desert Ridge, Mountain View, Red Mountain, Horizon and Pinnacle be interesting? What about Mesquite, Campo Verde, Marcos de Niza, Poston Butte in Div. II? Williams Field, Higley, Tempe, or McClintock in Div. III? Nerves racing as coaches and kids who are wide-eyed and pressure-packed try to do what they’d done so well for the previous three months. There’s no shortage of interest in Hamilton-Mountain Pointe or Saguaro-Queen Creek these days, but a year of off-the-wall pairings would be just as lively.
Take it up a notch
Technically, it can’t happen in 2014, since the next two-year scheduling block begins in 2015, but the Div. II football championship, for example, became an afterthought for many on the basis that Tucson Salpointe Catholic should have played Division I competition. Chaparral has been viewed much the same the past several years, as has Saguaro in Div. III. No one of these programs deserves to be scolded more than any other, but the point being it’s noble to make a leap. Gilbert Christian does it in boys basketball every year, Seton Catholic’s girls hoops team plays above its school size, and both have succeeded at a higher level. Notre Dame football is a Div. IV-sized school and would be a perennial playoff team in Div. III, but the Saints push themselves up to Div. II, and have been .500 in doing so. It’s not shortchanging kids to play tougher competition, and learn winning isn’t everything. Mesquite football went 5-15 the past two years against a rugged Div. I schedule, nearby Campo Verde was moved from Div. III to Div. II and Perry struggled as a new Div. I school this season. Those schools didn’t have a choice, but you don’t think those kids learned life lessons during the lean times?
Stop shopping your kids
Adults rule the world, as they should. That, of course, means they have to act like adults, which means taking control and sometimes seeing a view of life and the world beyond the here-and-now. So when there’s a coaching change at a school, or your kid isn’t getting enough playing time, or friends from club and other places all open enrolled at the same school so they could play sports together, take the alternate route for a change. If your son/daughter is fortunate and works hard enough to have the chance at playing collegiately, open enrolling and transferring to the powerhouse program is easy and may be successful, but the neighborhood school has its own merits as well, some of which are lessons your child might need or learn to appreciate in 10 or 20 years. High school is about friendships, camaraderie, socialization skills and rapid change. It’s OK to push kids and say “no” sometimes. Not everyone wins all the time no matter how good you are. It’s OK to meet new people. College recruiters will find you whether it’s Skyline, Hamilton, Westwood, Tempe Prep, San Tan Foothills, Perry or Desert Vista. Moving around in pursuit of scholarships is sillier than ever these days. Don’t let wins, stats and buddies shield chances for real growth. We all learn the ropes one way or another, one time or another, and usually the hard way.