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Friday, January 28, 2011

Saturday morning quarterback...

After 2 weeks vacation, I actually DO have some things on my mind.
Just a few...

• It’s been several years since the Michigan High School Athletic Association was forced to realign its sports seasons.
The biggest — and most controversial — move was the switching of the girls basketball and volleyball seasons. Since the flip-flop in 2007-08, volleyball is played during the fall and girls basketball is played during the winter — joining the boys on the hardcourt.
The gist of the lawsuit against the MHSAA had to do with a group of parents who claimed their daughters were not getting a fair shake when it came to being recruited for volleyball scholarships because college coaches, the group said, did the majority of their recruiting during the fall.
Now we could argue all day if that’s true or not. I don’t think it is. But some volleyball coaches in this area do.
Nevertheless, nowadays there’s no arguing the fact that girls basketball has taken a hit in the state of Michigan, including right here in the Thumb.
In its January 2011 monthly report, the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Executive Director, Tom Hursey, reports that he’s hearing schools are dropping non-varsity level girls basketball teams due to lack of participation. Indications are that fewer girls are playing high school basketball since the changes in seasons took place.
Hursey also tells a story about how he recently attended a boys and girls basketball doubleheader between Okemos and Lansing Eastern, teams in the Capital Area Activities Conference.
Ironically, this past year the CAAC has been threatened by a lawsuit from a group wanting girls basketball games to be played after the boys games in an effort to make things “equal” when it comes to varsity doubleheaders.
Well, Hursey goes on to report that he estimated the crowd at the boys game — the first game — to be right around 2,000. 
Alas, by the time the girls game rolled around, he said there were maybe 300-400 fans in the stands.
This has happened right here in the Thumb, too, when schools have hosted doubleheaders. I was at one earlier this year when Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port hosted Sandusky. The girls actually played first to a sparse crowd. And while the gym certainly was not full for the boys game, there were many more people in attendance when it started at around 7:30 p.m.
What can schools do? Well, around here they are limiting varsity doubleheaders for sure. There actually was one last night at Caseville between the Eagles and Port Hope, but there are very few scheduled for the remainder of the season.
And that means, we get basketball shoved at us five nights a week — way too much if you ask me. Overall attendance at area basketball games, according to several Thumb athletic directors, is down quite a bit. I think that’s simply because there’s just too much of it. And at $5 a head, it’s still relatively cheap, but they’re certainly not giving it away, especially for a family of four or more.
Regardless if you think the switching of seasons was good or bad, there’s no denying girls basketball has suffered. 
I don’t have the answer, but I am looking for some feedback from area girls basketball players, coaches or fans. 
What do you think? Play first. Play second? Switch the seasons back? Email me at or post it on the Tribune sports blog. If I get some good stuff, I will relay it to you in a later column.

• A big thank you goes out to several North Central Thumb League coaches who have come to our rescue in recent days and updated us with their conference standings.
We have finally been able to piece together the boys standings in the NCTL. Thanks to Carl Nicol at Kingston, Adam Moore at Akron-Fairgrove and Cliff Amey at Carsonville-Port Sanilac for helping us out.

• We are hearing from several NCTL coaches that the conference is highly considering going back to the 18-game league schedule, leaving schools with just two open dates for non-league contests. 
HUGE MISTAKE. It makes no sense to have 90 percent of the schedule made up of league games.
As big a headache as it’s been tracking down the league records this season due to the conference’s new format, I am sure many league coaches are absolutely disgusted at the thought of playing 18 league games again.
NCTL officials need to get their act together and map put a plan that is easy to understand and makes the most sense to ALL of their member schools.
An 18-game league schedule is the easy way out.


Anonymous said...

The 18 game league thing is a joke.
No way should that happen.

Anonymous said...

I really don't see any solution to the problem. Even if girls play last that just means people can go home earlier to sleep. Girls basketball just simply does not pull as big of a crowd. However as it would be nice switching the seasons back I don't think that you will see it done. As a high school senior I do book for the Girls team, and attend all of the guys games, plus catching a few NCTL games every year you are considerably tired of watching basketball every night. As far as the NCTL switching back to the 18 game schedule as bad as it is for the teams, as they can't get games outside of there league so they don't technically count it would make since financially to make the switch back to 18 games as that would give you less travel costs, less paying the officials, so on and so forth. So as bad as it is I could potentially seeing them doing that.

Anonymous said...

Its just way to much basketball, I remember when I was in school before the switch, you would see guys go out and support their girls in basketball and volleyball. Now you see them support volleyball, simply because its to much basketball night in and night out with games and practices. I really think the MHSAA needs to take a serious look into switching it back or something, they want a fair playing field, but it back the way it was, seeing how we have a lack for girl players now that its been changed. As a former student athlete that dealt with both styles, its the old way that should stay! Not to mention like the post before this, if you have a boys and girls double header, everybody turns out for the boys whether its a early game or late game, and then your left with a close to empty girls game regardless of if they are first or last. And I'm sure most colleges now a days send scouts out pretty much year around, so they can't say oh we have it unfair. To me the few parents that sued, might have just ruined MHSAA sports for tons of girls and boys!!!!

Anonymous said...

My thinking is if your going to be good enough to get recruited a college will find a way to scout you

Chiuk Czlek said...

Ah, the ultimate PC joke!

Michigan high schools girls basketball was the ONLY game in town during the fall. College scouts and coaches had opportunities to see these gals play.

Now the colleges must tell their scouts to watch...that girl in Illinois, or Nebraska, or Kentucky...or any other of the 50 states. That girl in Michigan? I don't know...these other girls seem better.

I'm willing to bet that basketball scholarships awarded to Michigan high school girls to major colleges has actually dropped since 2009.

Anonymous said...

Going back to the 18 game NCTL Schedule is nonsense. If you ask a majority of coaches in the NCTL, you will find most coaches liking the idea of having 5 to 7 non-conference games. Sure the overall records of some teams may suffer, but come tournament time it makes a big difference. I think some Athletic Directors would prefer the 18 game schedule( less work for them when it comes to scheduling ). I also understand that with the conferences ( NCTL, GTE & GTW ) not playing games on the same night, this causes major headaches with scheduling. Real quick on the Girl's and Boy's season changes. I agree that Girl's basketball has taken a major hit, but so has Boy's Basketball. It has become very expensive for Basketball fans across the state to attend basketball 5 nights a week. Alot of basketball fans who would travel to just watch a big rivalry game no longer do so. Volleyball on the other hand..has it really made a difference ? Does anyione really care? No real impact. I like Volleyball and support our school, but come on really ? They are fighting with Football on most nights for fans..No chance there. Would you rather watch a Volleyball game or be outside in 75 degree temps watching Football, doing yardwork or hunting ? Who is the real loser here ? Everyone !

Anonymous said...

We have a daughter so it is no question which games attend, but it has cut into our attendence of the boys games, for time and money. As far as college scouting, that's a joke, if your good enough you'll play college ball (girls or boys)if your not you won't. At least with the old schedule we had options without breaking the bank!
And yes, some people care about attending volleyball and I seen parents have to choose and it's sad. Lucky for me I can't stand football.
We live in good ole boy territory so no matter when the girls play or what they play, the boys draw the people. It isn't because they are better games, it's just the way it is, sad but true!