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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.