Last week, the TSSAA decided to fix something that wasn’t broken.
Again, I’d you cut through the weeds, the TSSAA, generally speaking, does a good job trying to manage more than 300 high schools and 18-plus activities. I’ve long been a defender, in most cases, of what that body does.
But I’ve been equally critical when warranted. For example, the sectional basketball tournament from 22-23 years ago was, as I warned, a bad idea. I was right. That extra level of tournament almost ruined the state tournament attendance. Fortunately, the TSSAA had the good sense to revert to the way that worked so well for decades and provided much excitement to the process.
Then there was the “Z-Plan” for determining football playoff contenders. It was a confusing formula that even the TSSAA got wrong when it laid out its first draw.
That was a mess.
I recall how the result of a game two Virginia high school teams affected who got into the Tennessee state playoffs. There was another instance where two Middle Tennessee teams affected McKenzie’s post-season plans.
That was just nuts.
Again, and fortunately, the TSSAA was smart enough to repair the damage when the state governing body tried to fix something that wasn’t broken.
Here we go again.
Baseball had evolved through the years. But the system worked. District champions and runners up played two other champs and runners up to advance to substate. Substate was an exciting one-game, winner-take-all event.
Now, thanks to a few coaches who I believe aren’t thinking rationally, the unbroken system is going to change. Regional and substate finalists will play a best-of-three championship. The higher seed hosts a doubleheader on the first day. If the series goes three games, the series moves to the site of the regional runner up.
Huh? What happened to the axiom about the spoils going to the winner?
Evidently, the TSSAA has amnesia. This most recent Spring Fling was hampered by tropical rains, rains that adversely affected half of the Class A pool. What if that happens during the districts, regionals or sectionals, and it will?
Oh, by the way, there is this small detail at the end of each May called graduation. Even with this current, abridged format, this trivial annual rite that recognizes academic achievement, you know, the actual reason we play high school sports, has gotten in the way.
I’ve covered a few teams where graduation during spring sports events created a bit of controversy and ill will between schools. Especially when rain was a factor.
If the folks submitting this hoaky nonsense would agree to make the state championship round a best-of-three event, I might join this negligible alliance. I mean, if we’re going to do this, let’s get serious about it.
But they won’t.
Meanwhile, after many unforeseen and unintended consequences rest their ugly head, once again, the TSSAA will revert to the way that worked so well for so long.
But how many kids may suffer injury, or miss out on winning a state championship in the process?
Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs 4-6 p.m. CT Monday-Thursday on 95.9, WRJB FM, Camden, Tenn.