A look at a few things this writer would like to change

Saturday, June 17, 2017
Jason Peevyhouse, State Gazette sports editor

What a fun walk down memory lane it was last week, huh?

OK, with that over and done with, itís time for a little rant this writer has been building up over the last few months.

Throughout the course of a year, we all see things from time to time we want to see changed or just go away in general. Itís no different with me.

So, with that in mind, here are just a few things which need to be changed (at least, in my humble opinion).

Bye, bye private schools

This is something that has stuck in my craw ever since my days covering Class A in football back in 2000.

Private schools being allowed, in a lot of ways, to be bullies to public schools in the lower classes of the TSSAA supposedly-public Division I.

If you really want to have this point driven home, if youíre in Class A or AA (now that A-AA is gone for the most part), take a note if youíre fortunate enough to make it to the Spring Fling and see how many private schools are in the brackets and, usually, winning those brackets.

Donít get me wrong, the TSSAA has done some things to at least make an effort to level the playing field Ė creating Division II as well as adding a multiplier for the private schools which stayed behind in Division I.

The first was a great idea, in my book, but should have been done across the board. To me, if a school is private, itís private. When you can cherry-pick your teams from a larger city like Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville or even Jackson, you really have no business competing against schools who have to, essentially, take whatever gets off the bus in the morning.

All major sports Ė three classifications in Division I

Yep. And if the first change on this list is made, it would make it a little easier.

Granted, it also kind of works against the smaller Class A schools, but, for me, itís preferred to see a public school get beaten by a public school when the two are in the same class no matter the size differential than to have the private schools in there muddying up the waters.

From some in basketball, you hear there should be more classifications. Those who argue for as many as six classes tend to use the six-class system in football as a defense, adding you get to keep the rivalries through the classes that way. Well, there are two sides to every coin and on the other side of adding basketball classes, there is taking away football ones.

And, if youíre thinking I might be alone in this thought process, the bandwagon for this might get a little bigger after this football season as there are three lengthy trips in regional play for the Dyer County football team.

Without having the enrollment numbers in front of me - and then having the private schools taken out of that number, itís hard to say exactly how many schools would be in each of these three classes off the top of my head.

One of the big reasons the Choctaws opted to head east over heading south for regional play was less travel (though the traveling they will do this year is significant). With only three classes, it would have to create a better situation for a large school in West Tennessee.

Of the changes I list today, this is one that is the least likely to happen as it will eliminate three classes in football. But Ė and wrap your heads around this Ė even cutting Division I in half, youíd still have six title games in football because next season there will be three champions in Division II. Still, reducing classes seems like something the TSSAA will not do, so letís not hold our breaths for this one.

Rotating state tournaments

This is something this column proposed about this time last year and itís something I believe in fully. Granted, Middle Tennessee is well, in the middle of the state (funny how it is in the name, too) and it makes two-thirds of the state have to travel similar lengths to get to state tournaments of volleyball, basketball and the Spring Fling to name a few.

However, I ask is it always fair for one of the stateís Grand Divisions to always have the homefield advantage during games with championships or the right to play for the championships on the line.

It really sticks out to me with sports like volleyball. For example, Page, who makes regular short trips to Murfreesboro for the Class AA bracket. The students follow them there and, when playing a team from over here in West Tennessee, turn it into a Lady Patriot home match.

The idea proposed last year is still the one I feel should be used. One Grand Division gets fall sports, another winter and the Spring Fling goes to the remaining third.

That being said, a trip to Chattanooga would be a long one for us, but the trip to Memphis would be much shorter during a different year than Murfreesboro.

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