No statements for me

Kansas’ 2016 high school basketball state tournaments began yesterday.The Sunflower State likes to think of itself as a hoops hotbed, given James Naismith, the inventor of the sport, coached the Kansas Jayhawks, and later Phog Allen, Larry Brown and Bill Self all brought national championships to Lawrence, but the high school tournaments leave a lot to be desired.

First, it is utterly ridiculous a state with less than three million people needs EIGHT divisions for basketball. Six base classifications is beyond stupid, but then classes 1A and 4A decided that it was too hard to win championships with just one division, so they split into two. The 1A split took effect in 2011, and the 4A split in 2014.

Second, why do Kansas’ state tournaments need EIGHT teams each? This is an antiquated holdover to the very, very, very old days, when college basketball was mostly an afterthought in places not named Lawrence, Lexington and Chapel Hill, plus a few other selected places. The term “Final Four” was not used at all by the NCAA nor fans of the teams advancing. It was termed the “national semifinals” for the four teams which won their respective regional tournaments.

Also, until the late 1950s, the NIT was considered to be the more prestigious tournament. And until 1977, the NIT invited all of its teams to play at Madison Square Garden in New York. That’s the model Kansas followed.

When the Final Four mushroomed in popularity in the 1970s, that would have been the perfect time for Kansas to reform its state tournaments and go down to four teams per tournament instead of eight. It would save a lot of money, since the KSHSAA would not need nearly as many sites, it would not need to rent the facilities for as long, and it would not need to pay officials for nearly as many games.

The problem is, glaciers move faster than the KSHSAA. It is not the fault of Executive Director Gary Musselman or anyone on his staff, but rather the intransigence of school administrators, who refuse to change anything.

That’s why it has the mess of having to conduct eight state tournaments. Too many superintendents, principals, athletic directors, coaches, parents and student-athletes have adopted the lame attitude that we all must get something.

It’s high school sports. And if someone cannot learn that you aren’t going to get your way most of the time in something as insignificant as a game, then what does that say for the person’s prospects when he or she is out in the real world, trying to provide for his or her family?

I’m sorry, but I am not missing state tournament week. There are way, way, way too many. And many teams who have no business playing for a state championship. I understand those who like the Cinderella factor, but is it right to reward a team which gets hot for three games instead of those who are consistent throughout a long season? NO.

Five classes for basketball are plenty. Four teams per state tournament. All semifinals and finals played at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence or Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan. Not that hard. Then again, “KSHSAA” and “not that hard” are often mutually exclusive terms.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on March 10, 2016, in KSHSAA, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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