I AIN’T MISSING YOU, state track and field

As I have mentioned in my previous two posts, today is the first of two days of the Kansas State High School Activities Association track and field state championship meet. 

The KSHSAA bills the meet as the largest track and field meet in the nation. As far as size goes, it probably is, with between 3,300 and 3,400 athletes competing on any given weekend. 

The KSHSAA home page calls it “The greatest track meet in the nation. Period.”

I call bullshit on the KSHSAA. 

It is a confusing clusterfuck. There is way too much going on at the same time, and trying to figure out who is competing where and at what time requires a degree in advanced calculus. 

The KSHSAA has too many classes. There should not be six. However, the administrators who run KSHSAA schools are gutless cowards who want to maximize the championship opportunities for their school. 

There are 355 schools. Five classes is PLENTY. I’m sorry if the schools in Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley and Wichita don’t win championships nearly as often. Six classes makes winning a champiosnhip in Kansas not as special as in a state which has its schools spread equally among the classes. 

Five classes would relieve some of the confusion that accompanies the state meet, but not that much. 

I do not understand for the life of me why the KSHSAA INSISTS that all six classifications compete at the same time on Saturday? Friday’s session is split between the small schools (1A, 2A, 3A) and large schools (4A, 5A, 6A), with one going in the morning and one in the afternoon. That is bad enough. The field events are an unholy mess with one class. With three? Horrendous. With SIX? INSANITY–that’s putting it mildly. 

I HATE THE FORMAT. I hate it! 

Why can’t one class at a time compete? It would not be that hard to complete in two days. 

Instead, the KSHSAA put all six classes on display at once, driving those in the media who have to cover the meet absolutely batty.

I had so many complaints when I covered the meet about how I didn’t get so-and-so. I wanted to scream at them “YOU TRY COVERING THIS MEET YOURSELF!” I cannot be in more than one place at one time. I cannot cover four different people if all of them are in different events at once. I would like to see some of the complainers try it. 

It’s bad enough the meet is mass chaos. 

It’s even worse that the media there to cover the event are treated so poorly. 

The officials at Wichita State get a power trip by telling photographers and reporters to move out of the way. I understand there needs to be room for the athletes, but what, we can’t do our job just because some person wants to flex his or her muscle and make our lives miserable? 

No reserved parking. That means arriving at Cessna Stadium before sunrise unless you want to park in Derby (okay, not that far, but at least one mile from the stadium) and walk in very hot weather. Try doing it with camera equipment and a computer. Try doing it with camera equipment and a computer after running around for five, six, up to 11 hours chasing everything and anything just so some grandmother doesn’t use every four-letter word in the book to describe your effort–or lack thereof, at least as they see it. 

As bad as I felt about no reserved parking, I felt even worse for Tad Felts, who covered the meet for over 50 years for various radio stations before retiring a few years ago, and for Dick Boyd, the Norton Telegram wrier who has been with that paper since 1970, and before that, worked for other papers along the US 36 corridor. By not having reserved parking, KSHSAA made these two senior citizens trudge with equipment quite a long way. That stinks. 

When I covered high school championship events, there was almost always resrved parking. I didn’t always have it at the Superdome for the football championships, but I could park right next to the press entrance and be in my seat in a much shorter time than it takes to walk from the parking lot at Koch Arena to the front gate of Cessna Stadium.

The parking issue has angered me so much through the years I feel like speaking my mind to the KSHSAA Executive Board. I’m contemplating it. 

The Wichita State folks aren’t the friendliest. They aren’t fond of the media, whom they think are conspiring with Kansas and Kansas State to deny their basketball team coverage in the first place.

Cessna Stadium itself is a joke. The track was replaced 15 years ago, but the stadium itself is a dump. Not a damn thing has been done to the stadium itself since the Shockers dropped football in early 1987. The stadium was built in 1969, and not much has changed. Why the hell does Kapaun Mount Carmel continue to play homes games there? The grass field is dangerous. 

I don’t miss that place. Not one bit. I’m sorry. 

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 May 26, 2017, in KSHSAA and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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