There are 60 pages of agenda items for the LHSAA’s Jan. 26 business meeting.
In those pages, printed in black and red ink, participating principals have introduced or offered 55 amendments to the athletic body’s rules book.
Mindful that it now takes a vote of two-thirds of the state’s 400-plus member principals to pass a new proposal, the outcome of this meeting will either help the association move forward in a positive manner or keep the LHSAA loping on its usual treadmill to nowhere.
Three items are of particular interest, and if their authors are present at the meeting, they will be dealt with. Two are quite similar and authored in part by Teurlings Catholic principal Michael Boyer.
Honoring the prep basketball association’s coaches’ request, Boyer and his North Vermilion cohort, Tommy Byler, want that sport to be reclassified as a seven-class sport (5A through C) and hold one general playoff to do away with separate playoffs for Select and Non-select schools.
The rationale for the change is that coaches want to bring all schools back together after a four-year split.
If that one is voted down, an alternate proposal calls for boys’ and girls’ basketball teams placed in Select divisions to hold their championship tournaments a week prior to the tournament held for non-select schools. Select schools would play in 16-team divisions rather than 32 because there aren’t enough Select schools to fill a 32-team bracket.
Passage of that plan would enable these schools to have an extra week of regular- season play. The split caused some Select schools to have to wait 10-14 days to play a playoff game. The change would allow boys to join their spring sports teams a week earlier.
Impacted mostly would be teams in Divisions III and IV that would not qualify for the playoffs. Several of these non-qualifiers have losing records and wouldn’t make the field under a common playoff. They are not being punished by anything more than their substandard records.
Boyer also penned a proposal that would mandate softball teams to return to a seven-class format throughout district and tournament play.
His proposal eliminates schools’ being placed in divisions and returns the sport to traditional seven classifications.
Boyer points out that 12 state champions dilute the competition. His plan eliminates five state champions and runners-up.
There is no financial impact on the schools other than total playoff game revenue. There would be fewer awards needed and less time for LHSAA staffers and volunteers.
Tioga principal Alan LaCombe wants to add a third day onto the state softball tournament. Currently, the tournament in Sulphur is a two-day event, with the quarterfinal round being played on a Friday, the semifinal round on Saturday morning and the championship games on Saturday evening.
LaCombe wants to lift the burden of a team having to play more than one game per day. He points out that players will be well rested on the day of the championship game.
But do the cons outweigh the pros? Adding a day will result in the loss of some revenue because many fans will not want to book rooms for an extra day, and sponsors may not be able to accommodate an extra day of softball. There will be some loss of revenue to schools that are eliminated before the final game.
And speaking of sponsors, North Vermilion’s Byler and Franklinton principal Renee Burris propose that schools participating in the championship football games be allowed to use any national federation-approved ball, not necessarily the official ball of the LHSAA, made by Baden.
The item allows teams to use the same brand of ball they have used for the entire season. That would come at a cost to the association, which would probably lose significant revenue that it derives from a Baden partnership.
And hats off to St. Paul’s Trevor Watkins, who offers a plan to form a committee to select the site of and coordinate future state championship wrestling tournaments.
Many wrestling coaches run tournaments similar to the state meet. They would save the LHSAA time and money researching and recommending site advantages to get it the heck out of Bossier.
Ron Brocato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.