Scheduling, holidays, weather, and OSU football all relate to SVC sports

Scheduling has been a dominate topic in the inbox – admin1@svcsportszone.com – here at SVCsportszone. As you heard on some of the early shows of our Triple Crown Family Fun Center SVC Sports Talk Podcast Show, the scheduling discussion starts with who you play and when you play them.

Who and When

For football, the SVC is a conference with seven of the 10 games done for you, so the three choices in the non-league can impact your program a great deal. In other sports it can paint your program’s picture even more so because the non-league schedule makes up even a bigger percentage. In basketball and volleyball it is 36% of your schedule and in baseball/softball it is nearly half.

In this perception-based discussion, those who follow the sports have a good idea of who ranks how, but to the average observer they simply ask the question: What is your record? This same question is often looked at in computer points and voting for postseason seeds.

Basketball scheduling has a mind of its own

Football equals practice Monday through Thursday, play Friday, film if needed on Saturday, take Sunday off, and do it again. Repeat that 10 times and then more if your team is good enough. Junior high will play Thursday, and junior varsity – which is becoming a discussion for another day is played on Saturday or Monday if at all. This is a sport that is “schedule friendly” and that has very consistent schedule throughout the season. As long as you know who and where that week you know the game is most likely at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.

Volleyball has SVC set on Tuesday and Thursday, tri-matches on Saturday (play non-league on Monday/Wednesday if you choose). Junior high will play Monday and Wednesday.

Baseball/Softball plays league on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with doubleheaders on Saturday (again, play non-league on Tuesday/Thursday if you choose). Sure, weather plays a HUGE part here, but the league has a set rule (like it or not) that is used to keep the season moving forward.

With basketball, the girls play Tuesday and Thursday – well sometimes Saturday too – and varsity games will usually start around 6 p.m. – well wait you will need to know if JV is playing two or four quarters, and if it is on Saturday you will need to know if it is a day game or a night game. As for boys, they play Friday and Saturday – well sometimes just one of those days and we will also throw in a Tuesday now and then. At least the game times are always consistent – well that is as long as the Buckeyes are not playing football or it is not one of the two all-day events. I guess this means I have no clue on how to describe the basketball schedule to fans.

Side Note: I know I am to be 100% SVC, 100% of the time here on SVCsportszone, but I have a problem as a sports fan. I am quite confused over the concept that drives college football, so maybe our intelligent SVC fans can help me (call 740-569-3254 to leave your explanation/message for me).

What does it mean to be the Discover Orange Bowl Champion? Is it better to win the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl or lose the Allstate Sugar Bowl? Is it better to lose in the Vizio BCS National Championship or win the Rose Bowl game presented by Vizio?

Let me return to the SVC! Do you wish schools would do more scheduling accommodations to high school basketball to allow you the fans a chance to watch Ohio State football? Is this just “big games” such as the conference championship, the annual bowl game, or does it include the Purdue game in November?

Other issues in the inbox

In all honesty, this is why scheduling takes on a life of it own. If you ask five different people, you will get five different philosophies. One person will say non-league should be based on travel distance or potential gate, but another person will say play teams you feel your team can consistently compete against. Some say no games over the holidays can allow everyone a complete vacation, but another person looks at two weeks without games as a formula for disaster.

Speaking of weather and holidays, a few fans have asked about practicing on snow days as well as Sundays. Well first these two topics are two different debates. Sundays have taken on a much different view in the landscape of sports during this generation. The new little league philosophies, AAU, club volleyball, and all sorts of other scheduling have taken us down a different road then we once knew. As for my opinion, I think when schools are directly involved Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings should be avoided, but I believe schools get themselves in a contradiction when they say high school teams can’t practice but their gyms are filled for four hours with little league games. I think again the ultimate fix comes when the different perspectives join together. I have no problem if an administration says no practice on Sunday, but they can also help coaches and players by making sure the gyms are available on Saturdays and that high school games are avoided on Mondays.

As for snow days, I feel it is a must that the words “not mandatory” are used from coaches to players. If coaches and/or administration feel that the majority of the roads are safe for travel, I feel that parents have to share in the responsibility. If a student-athlete has practice and a parent is unable to provide transportation or they feel their roads are unsafe then they need to keep their child home. If a coach wants to have a non-mandatory workout and the majority of players (with parent input) can make it safely then this really is not a big deal.

This weekend will see the return of the Triple Crown Family Fun Center SVC Sports Talk Podcast Show. Let us know your thoughts on the above topics as well as other things on your mind.

Call 740-569-3254 and leave your thoughts. We will always leave your name out of the audio used on the show.

Other topics fans are talking about . . . What to make of 2013 for each basketball team and what is the outlook in 2014? Early frontrunners for POY? Unioto/WF girls match-up? Who is the best team in boys and will they still be the best come February?

Posted in SVC Sports Talk, Scioto Valley Conference, Uncategorized, WEBSITE INBOX | 9 Comments

Help me understand – best product or best social event?

By Shayne Combs, SVCsportszone.com
August 28, 2013

I like sports…okay that is like saying I like to eat a little which is somewhat of an understatement. I love sports. I love all sports. I love watching sports. I loved playing sports growing up, and I still love playing most sports that I am capable of playing without injuring my fat, old body.

To use another food reference, I enjoy steak, occasional tenderloin, or perhaps some ribs, but my favorite is a big plate of pasta with applesauce on top. What is the best food? We all have our favorites. As for sports, my pasta is basketball, baseball, or golf; however, I enjoy them all. Which is the best? Well, that is for each person to decide.

If we go on popular opinion in today’s time, it is obvious that football has taken the lead. The television schedule, which is clearly striving for ratings, tells us all we need to know about the popularity of college and professional football. This same popularity is probably true in high school, but maybe not to the same extent. Some areas love them some football, whereas, other school districts offer football as something to do until basketball starts. Even then football Friday night in the fall appears to be a popular social event.

This is where my question enters the equation: best product or best social event? Do more people watch football compared to other sports because they love the game? Do they love the physicality, the offensive schemes, or the one-on-one battles on the outside? In other words, do they love watching the game?

I believe it is the convenience, the social aspects, and the outside entertainment that truly attracts more people. The schedule is easy to follow…high school Friday, college Saturday, NFL Sunday with only a few exceptions. Every community knows that at 7:30 every Friday night the local team plays home or away. There will only be 10 games total, so if I am able to make all the home games and a couple of away games that should make me a true fan.

With a week to wait the anticipation – even for the common fan – builds day-by-day. Football marks the end of the work week. Ohio State can be playing Buffalo and people all over the state are asking: Where you going to watch The Game? The tailgating starts hours before with food and drinks, and no hurry if you do not get to your seat before kickoff.

Finally, the outside entertainment is the final push. Most sports fans are not going to watch two teams with losing records play on Monday Night Football in November, but give someone a nine-point deficit with his fantasy running back in the game and that person will be glued to the television from start to finish regardless of what time they have to be at work tomorrow.

Now, I do like watching football. I am not saying I would sit down and watch Ball State and Tulsa on a Thursday night, but I do like watching the game. The problem in this debate is the outliers that must be eliminated from the discussion. If a person has a passion for a particular team or sport, then you probably are not the ones to fairly answer this question.

For example, not many true fans will sit and stress over every pitch of the Reds for 162 games like me. I understand that a lot of people view baseball as slow and boring because they do not understand situations. Some people say they cannot watch a sport where every game is not a “must” win. I am not a fair person to judge baseball or the Reds because I am too passionate about the sport and the team to give an objective opinion.

Well I better conclude this article because the final week of the NFL preseason is starting. I am sure all of you will stop reading to go watch – especially if you are in a preseason fantasy league.

JOIN ME ON SVC SPORTS TALK – call 740-569-3254 and let me know your opinion on this topic

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It’s about that time

By Shayne Combs, SVCsportszone.com

As I turned my desk calendar to August, I realized it is about that time again. The time where summer is in the rearview mirror and the mind starts to prepare for another year of SVC sports. I have always felt like this is an exciting time, but as I ponder the fall my excitement for the upcoming season is a little more than usual.

With no Williamson in Williamsport, it sure does give the football league a different look. I really do not see an overall improvement at the bottom of the league, and with Piketon getting hit so hard by graduation last year; I know there is a lot of optimism in Bainbridge.

As for volleyball, we saw how exciting it can be last year when the longtime parity from the middle of the pack came to the top to provide for a great finish in the title chase. I would expect this fall to be more of the same. Nearly impossible not to call Coach Merriman and her Lady Pioneers the favorite. I see at least three (maybe four) other teams capable of chasing down the red, white, and blue. We will have plenty of time to debate all this over the next few weeks before we start playing for real.

I always look forward to golf. We will need a few matches to see if any teams have developed enough depth to compete with Unioto; however, the Player of the Year race could be really fun to watch. Last year’s POY Colton Forcum of Unioto graduated, and players two through six (Eli McKee of SE, Sam Calvin of Unioto, Peyton Cooper of Adena, Tyler Thompson of PV, and Andrew Pettenski of WF) were separated by just two shots per round.

In cross country the Unioto boys appear to still be setting the pace led by Ethan Richter, In girls, the recent run of Zane Trace makes them the team to beat, but it is interesting that Unioto returns three of the top six runners (Kinkela Harkins, Julia Hacker, and Kristen Cook) from last year’s SVC championship. Zane Trace is still more than capable of running to a title as Kim Wolfe, Cecelia Wallace, and Alison Chinn all return as all-league runners.

SVCsportszone.com will continue to cover soccer as well in 2013. Soccer is not an official SVC sport, but it is a sport with excellent teams. Unioto and Zane Trace should continue to have solid teams for boys and girls, and the growth of soccer is starting to spread to other schools such as Adena, SE, Piketon, and WF.

Fans, let us know your thoughts on the upcoming season…admin1@svcsportszone.com

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An amazing finish to the NBA season…Hope kids were watching and learning

By Shayne Combs, SVCsportszone.com

Not five…not six…not seven…for a minute I thought maybe LeBron was counting number of final appearances, but to his credit he found a way to get the job done. I am not a LeBron hater. I’m really not! Playing basketball at the NBA level does require a business side, and he had the right to play wherever he wanted. I did lose some respect for him when he felt like he needed to have a public “Decision” to announce where he was taking his talents.

I think James is a unique talent that the league has never had; however, I think he and the Miami Heat give younger athletes a great message to learn. It is not always a matter of being the most talented if you are not willing to bring it every night. The light switch that this team played with throughout the season is something that young players can really learn from when approaching their own high school teams. When the most talented plays with the most effort, it is usually going to be a no contest. Sometimes the talent gap is so big maybe it will not matter, but as we saw in the NBA playoffs, waiting until your back is against the wall to play with urgency and effort could easily be a recipe for failure. This point could have been better learned in Game 6, but an amazing effort play from Chris Bosh and a big time shot from one of the great shooters of my lifetime in Ray Allen, and a second chance was given to the more talented team.

As I turn 36 today, I am trying to stay young and understand today’s culture. I remember the generation before me hated Jordan’s baggy shorts, the knee brace not worn on the knee, and the tongue. You would always hear the Celtics and Lakers of the 80s were much better. Now, you cannot turn on any talk show without hearing the Jordan/LeBron talk. That debate is for another day, but the understanding of the culture is something very current.

This AAU generation – where it is easier for all the best players to find a place to play together and win big – is evident in high school, college, and now as we are witnessing the NBA. If I am being open minded, I do have to accept the argument that it is very unselfish for players like Bosh to give up his personal accolades to become a role player and win championships, but there is another part of the argument that must be noticed by the younger generation. Forming an all-star team doesn’t automatically equal championships. Championships come from hard work, preparation, playing to potential every time out, and playing together.

High school championships are even harder to win. They are not won by winning four out of seven. League championships are 14-game grinds in the SVC where you may get a chance to learn once or twice from a loss. Beyond the regular season it continues to become more difficult with the one-and-done format in the tournament.

So as you were watching one of the truly great NBA Finals, I hope you were watching it correctly as a high school player. I hope you were watching the special skill set and creativity of Tony Parker. I hope you were watching the difference in role players like Danny Green when defended with poor effort and then incredible effort. I hope you were watching champions like Shane Battier not sit and pout about not playing for most of a month only to answer the bell when called upon with the season on the line. I hope you were able to realize that despite the scoring problems of Bosh that you appreciated his three hustle plays in Game 6 as well as his ability to contain Tim Duncan one-on-one over the final six quarters of the series.

I hope you watched and learned that games are never over until the clock reads zero. Every rebound, loose ball, and free throw can be the difference between winning and losing…between champion and runner-up.

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ONE LAST LOOK AHEAD AT BASKETBALL BEFORE IT TURNS SPRING

By Shayne Combs, admin1@svcsportszone.com

The past few months watched two veteran groups in Piketon and Adena capture league titles and survive the tournament trail to the Sweet 16. Those two stories were fairly easy to envision back in the preseason, but as we look ahead to next year, the picture is not as clear.

On the boys’ side, I think Zane Trace and Unioto will be considered the easy picks, because both teams return a great nucleus of talent. The Pioneers – a team who lost to Final Four bound Ironton in the district championship – will return three big scorers in Pierce Mowery, Connor Smith, and Tyler Hinty including a great floor general in Eric Hutton. Unioto (a team who also lost to a Final Four bound team in Warren) will see a great sophomore class turn juniors as all-league guards Kyle Strange and Nick Corcoran lead the way on a versatile roster. The one thing I will caution the fans of these two schools is the same thing I tried to warn Southeastern (Michael Brown) this past year, and that is the mistake of underestimating the loss of a double-double big man. Unioto’s Chase Detillion and Zane Trace’s Wes Beam will both be holes to fill in the middle. I think this will provide Coach Hoops and Coach Alley some interesting off-season decisions, because both teams have the option of going smaller and playing with a more athletic five; however, as I watched many shorter teams find out in the postseason, it is tough when you cannot go down low when you need to get easy looks.

I also think you have to throw Southeastern in this discussion. I realize this team was not always consistent this season, but this is a talented team returning Austin Hice, Jordan Allen, Tyler Cartee, Kannon Strausbaugh, and Jake Skeens around a great point guard in Dylan Miles. I think two things that come with getting older are consistency and ability to win on the road. Southeastern’s rotation will be as talented as Zane Trace and Unioto, so if the consistency improves, the Panthers will be in the mix down the stretch.

Rounding out the league, I still like what Piketon has coming back. Piketon probably will not have the ability to win the league over the 14-game SVC grind, but I do think the Redstreaks will play a big factor in deciding who does win the league.

Beyond those teams it is interesting to look at the depth of next year’s league. Huntington will be with a new coach. The Huntsmen saw some tough times the second half of the year, but it did give them a look at next year’s team with the inside-out combo of Jake Kellough and Elijah Shanks.

Paint Valley also has a nice inside-out combo back with Clay Stratton and Mason McCloy. The Bearcats finished in fourth place two seasons ago winning 10 overall games before winning five games last year. This year, despite the eighth-place finish the Bearcats did win eight overall games including a first-round tournament game. A big key for Paint Valley in the upcoming season will be staying healthy as depth could be a question mark. Keep in mind; PV graduates four guys from this year’s normal seven or eight man rotation.

Adena also finished strong this season with a nice nucleus piece in Jonathan Thomas back, and Westfall is the one team that was hit extremely hard by graduation. Both of these teams have some nice talent coming in from junior high, but it is probably fair to say both of these teams are a year or two away from challenging for a middle to top-half spot in the SVC.

Moving over to girls, Unioto will be the “safe” pick assuming Tori Cox makes a healthy return to join Alexis Overly. I also think Westfall will continue to become more of a factor with the big three of Jess Miller, Kelsie Robinson, and Regan Stonerock returning for Coach Blue.

I feel like the team not getting nearly enough attention entering next year is Zane Trace. This is a team capable of winning the whole thing next year. Hayley Carle and Kylan Strausbaugh both return with a lot of good athletes around them. Coach Dunkle also has some great potential in terms of defense and rebounding in his incoming sophomore class that could really help ZT play its normal physical style. My biggest question with this group will be its commitment to basketball in the off season.

Beyond this trio of teams, Piketon will definitely look to stick its nose in the race. K.K. Jenkins and Aleah Pelphrey return as seniors with emerging star Ashlee Lawhorn coming off a great sophomore season. Coach Coreno will have a point guard a year older as well as some other young kids who started to produce at the varsity level by season’s end.

Paint Valley will have a senior laden team led by all-league returnee Laci Stanforth. Coach Holbert will not have one player just jump into the role of Charlene Stout, but the Lady Cats should have a little more depth throughout the varsity roster. Southeastern, a program about a year away in my opinion from being really good for years to come, will be much improved next season. I also look for Huntington to make another jump in the upcoming season. Huntington went from one win in 2012 to five in 2013. That same type of jump with the talent of Ariel Sams leading the way is a good possibility. Last, the real unknown in the standings will be what Adena looks like after losing its top six players.

As always, the summer is sure to bring some wrinkles in these predictions, but after a great year of basketball, I think the parity returning for both boys and girls should make for a great 2013-2014.

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Seeing sports through different viewpoints

By Shayne Combs, admin1@svcsportszone.com

A recent email in the inbox has allowed me to have some great discussion with people over the past few weeks. Below is the email followed by my response.

EMAIL: Hey, love the podcast show and always enjoy looking at the website. I understand from the show that you are not a big fan of little league sports right now, but what about AAU, Club, and other various travel team stuff in the summer? Some of this stuff is so expensive! Do you think it is beneficial? THANKS!

My opinion on this matter is different than most people. For the longest time, I have been unable to figure out why this is the case, but within the last few years, I think I have realized the reason. Like in any discussion, the viewpoint of the person is going to play a key role. The reason two (or more in this case) sides will disagree on something is usually because the two sides are looking at it with different interest with different goals in mind.

For me, I watch sports at the younger levels with big picture in mind. As a person who teaches middle school and as someone who has coached multiple varsity sports, I have trouble watching little league baseball, junior basketball, club volleyball, or whatever sport at whatever venue without looking at how the experience is influencing the future of that player and his or her high school team.

I have trouble getting excited about the little league hitter hitting homeruns with an extremely big stride and swing that will never fundamentally transition to varsity baseball. I have trouble watching the volleyball player pay $600 to play a position or against a competition level that is not equal to their role in their high school program. I have trouble watching a player, who needs to work on his left hand in the off season, exclusively use AAU to get better while only touching the ball out of position and driving right in a game-like situation. From a team perspective, I have trouble watching little league strategies used to win little league games. Be it running the bases in an unrealistic way in “C-league” baseball or sitting in a zone in basketball, I think it is important to teach things with future in mind. This is especially true if the little league team is the best team. If a team has really good little league players, it is even more important to teach things at an advanced level.

As I try to understand this growing movement in sports, I finally have been able to take off my coaching glasses and just observe people. I now realize that I must understand that different people are going to look for different things from sports. I realize that not all people care about winning games and winning championships. Often times people just like the participation in sports. I realize not all kids, and families for that matter, have a desire to ever play certain sports past junior high. I realize sports at a younger level are looked at as an avenue for life skills. Exercise, teamwork, communication, and respect are just a few of a long list that sports at all levels can teach. Some families may enjoy the travel experience simply from a social experience. Players may enjoy making friends from different schools and different areas of the state and even country for that matter.

I am finally seeing it…I just don’t get it. Sure I played some AAU in high school, but it just wasn’t the same as the “school” experience. If I wanted to play basketball, I called up as many people from my school as possible and had the coach (Thanks Coach Hoffner) open the gym every weekend.

I am not saying AAU basketball or Club Volleyball is wrong, but I am saying it can’t replace the necessary individual work that is necessary in all sports. You cannot become a better hitter with three legion at-bats a night unless you are willing to take the practice cuts in preparation. You cannot become a better shooter in AAU unless you are willing to get in the gym and get thousands of off-season jumpers. You cannot become a better hitter in volleyball if you only play the back row for your club team.

The perspective also changes from kids to adults. When I was growing up as a student-athlete, I remember how bad I wanted to win championships at the varsity level at my high school. Now as an adult, do I realize there are more important things? Well obviously the answer is absolutely, but outside of having an amazing upbringing in a great family, the biggest lessons I ever learned took place in sports. Learning how to be a part of something bigger than you is an amazing process. If travel teams and other club teams can teach these things and that is why families choose those opportunities than I say it is money well spent.

In conclusion…do I think it is beneficial? If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have had a set answer regardless the sport or the individual. Now, I will tell you it depends on your perspective. It depends on what you want from sports. With every passing year and more financial issues hitting schools, you hear about “club” teams perhaps eventually taking the place of high school teams. This would be unfortunate (or fortunate depending on your viewpoint), but I am starting to see why this is so intriguing to today’s society.

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Early favorites in SVC basketball

The second big topic in the inbox recently has been talking favorites to win it all in basketball. Most the fans seem to think Piketon boys and Unioto girls are the teams to beat. I can’t really disagree with this. In boys, Piketon certainly returns a lot of talent, and even with the playoff run in football, Coach Lisath has some key pieces already in the gym and should have his experienced team ready to go from the start of the season. The rest of the boys’ league is hard to rank until I see some rosters and then see the teams take the court at the preview. Several SVC teams were hit hard by graduation last year.

As for girls, I think it is fair to call Unioto the favorite; however, it can be debated when you consider Adena returns the league’s best player as well as three other starters off of last year’s gold ball champions. I think the big question here is how well Adena can replace the talent of Autumn Smith. Obviously the talent of Jenny Grigsby is going to help do this, but how will Adena’s depth hold up against a much healthier Unioto squad that should include Mallory Retherford closer to 100% and Taylor Overly back in the mix? I also am intrigued to see Zane Trace. This team is going to be loaded with athletes and very difficult to score against.

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RYAN WELLS

The biggest batch of emails over the past couple of weeks seems to be people asking about Ryan Wells being left off the all-league football squad. I have to admit this caught my attention within seconds of checking the list. I was looking at Trent Williamson, Isaac Brabson, and Ryan Wells to see who the coaches voted SVC Back of the Year. I had no problem with Williamson and Brabson sharing the honor when you consider team success as well as the statistical years for these two great signal callers; however, once I noticed the name Ryan Wells was not even on the list it was definitely a shock.

I guess my response to this returns me to an article I had written recently when selecting my volleyball team on the website. Our league has certain sports that are grossly being slighted in terms of the number of students being allowed to be selected. You add this with some other procedures that football uses that I totally disagree with, and this type of thing can happen. I know you will find some people who support the football format, but all I can say in response to that is that this level of “snub” would not happen in another sport.

I hate that a senior loses out on a chance to go to the all-league banquet. Obviously, a plaque doesn’t have to have his name on it to know that he is one of the best 27 players in the league this season. I say congrats to all the players selected because it was well deserved. All I am saying in response to the boatload of emails that have been sent in defense of Wells is that this is a format problem that needs to be changed.

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All-League Format Change

One of the big debates between the SVC leaders and coaches from each sport is the number of student-athletes honored on the all-league team. I know as a baseball coach that I am firm on my stance in terms of some changes needed in how we select, as well as how many players we select, to the all-league squad each year. As I have started recently preparing my annual SVCsportszone.com All-SVC volleyball squad, it got me thinking about the format once again.

I have never liked just naming one full all-league team. I feel the second best player in the league deserves a little bit more recognition than the fifteenth player. Therefore, the first change I am making in how I select the players will come in dividing the list into teams – much like basketball, baseball, or softball. In basketball, the league names three teams of five. I assume the number five originated from the fact that basketball plays five players at a time. In baseball and softball we name two teams of nine. Again, I assume the nine comes along the lines of the same logic of number of players starting the game. This makes me think that the best way to name volleyball would be in three teams of seven. I use the number seven based on the starting rotation which usually in today’s time will include a libero even though the team only has six players on the floor.

The next debate comes in the total number. There will be coaches – even coaches in my sport of baseball – immediately asking: Why would volleyball get 21 players in a sport where they start seven, but baseball gets 18 in a sport that starts nine? That is a good point, because you could give baseball and softball three teams of nine and 27 honored in a sport with 72 starters is 38% (the same number as basketball). Even though this is a great point, I will save that argument for another time. As for the debate of numbers, take a look at some statistics.

In basketball, the league has 40 starters (five from each of the eight schools). In selecting 15 kids, the league is able to name 38% of the kids starting to the all-league squad. Even if basketball coaches argue – and get you to buy the fact – that many of their sixth-man, “super” subs off the bench are an extension of their starting lineup – that is still 15 of 48 which is 31%.

In baseball and softball, the league starts 72 (not counting a DH or a few other rules in softball that Chris Medved tried to explain to me on the bus on the way to ZT last year and it made my head hurt as much on the way there as it did once I got to Kinnikinnick and had to try to figure out how to get that lineup out…anyway, sorry – back to the point). In naming 18 players from a sport of 72 starters that sport is getting 25% of its starting student-athletes recognition. If you believe the DH should be included, the number would climb to 18 of 80 which would drop the percentage to 23%.

The trickiest part in this debate comes from football. The reason being, it is tough to decide the proper number to use in my formula for starters. Many will say 22 which I think is too high because the majority of high school football teams in the SVC – even with some schools growing in number – are going to play kids both ways. At the other extreme, I think figuring the starters at just 11 would be unfair because you are going to have a few specialty players not playing on both sides of the ball. I think a fair number for the formula would be 14 starters. At 14, that makes the total number of starters 112. They named 26 players last year, so that would equal 23%.

Again, based on these figures, perhaps baseball, softball, and football do have a legitimate concern in terms of spots; however, I was not figuring these stats to start a debate between the sports. I simply wanted to figure out the size of all-league teams in terms of percentage to fairly form my volleyball teams. If volleyball starts seven players for a total of 56 starters league-wide, I feel three teams of seven is a fair number because that puts the percentage at 38%. Allowing the volleyball league just 15 kids (all on one team) is allowing the league to honor just 27% of the starters. I feel that is too low, so on this year’s version of my all-league volleyball squad you will see the improved format.

Lastly, I know the final concern always comes down to people feeling that too many will water down the honor of being all-league. My belief is that any sport that stays under 40% is still honoring the elite. Furthermore, I think this is why having teams (1st, 2nd, 3rd) to rank the different groups of players is so important to this process. The honorable mention list does give us a chance to honor some of the players considered for the list but did not make the final cut in terms of the voting process.

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Title IX has given a much different look to the view of sports

The 23rd day of June has always been a special day for me because it was the day I was born. Little did I know throughout the majority of my childhood that it was this day five years before my existence that would change a thing that I love as much as I do sports in such a significant way. June 23, 1972 was the day Title IX became a law that would forever change the face of sports.

For the readers unaware of this law, Title IX is simply defined on Wikipedia as follows:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…

This originally just gave females the right to play and eventually led to a far more even playing field in terms of facilities, uniforms, and instruction. Several decades later, names like Pat Summit, Billie Jean King, Lisa Leslie, Mia Hamm, and Jennie Finch have all given us a different outlook in terms of how we view girls playing sports. Volleyball, basketball, softball, or whatever sport you choose to follow, the athletes are becoming bigger, faster, stronger and are becoming more and more skilled all the time.

I realize many sports fans will say that guys are more athletic and more entertaining to watch. In terms of athleticism there is no question this is true; however, the excitement of girls’ sports is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. Competition is contagious, and athletes – regardless of the gender – competing hard to be a part of something bigger than themselves is always entertaining to watch as far as I am concerned. I know some of my earliest memories of dreaming of winning championships someday came watching the silky smooth Lori McClellan, the extremely athletic Natalie Hill, and the other Unioto Lady Shermans take to the court on Ohio’s biggest stage at the state tournament in both basketball and volleyball.

Forty years later, I still believe we are just scratching the surface. I think the future will continue to show progress. Due to the fact this law was not put into place until 1972, I think it is only logical to give certain sports a chance to catch up to sports that have been around much longer. Take basketball for example. When I study the history of college basketball for men, I see a dynasty like UCLA in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the 1980s, I still saw a fairly small list of schools capable of consistently competing on a national level. Now, you see great parity in college basketball which includes many mid-majors with a chance to win.

Why? I believe the growth of media coverage played a huge role in this. All the great players no longer have to flock to the major schools to play in the best facilities, to play on television, or to play for a national title. I see a mirror growth in the women’s game. Tennessee and UCONN have had great dynasty-like runs over the past few decades; however, as media coverage continues to grow; we are starting to see a little more parity in the game. In fact, I believe within the next decade or so that we will see the same type of parity in the women’s game that we see in today’s game on the men’s side.

I have always believed that media tells the sports fan what is important. If something is promoted it allows fans to know more about it, and in many cases, they become more interested in it. I believe that what kids see increases the chance of them falling in love with it. Just like the Dream Team (that is the real one in 1992 and not what Kobe and Lebron are calling this version) has done worldwide for basketball or Tiger has done for the game of golf the same has happened in the past decade for girls following Brandi Chastain’s goal in 1999 helping increase the popularity of girls’ soccer.

If you are a true fan of sports, I urge you not to cheat yourself by not giving some sports a chance. I know over the past decade I have learned a great deal about volleyball. Growing up I watched some volleyball, but I never really did get it. Now, I consider it one of my favorite sports to watch. If you get two good teams that play good volleyball, it is a great sport to watch. I know some people will say that bad volleyball is hard to watch, but that is true about any sport be it guys or girls. I don’t want to watch bad baseball teams not throw strikes or make an error an inning. I don’t want to watch two basketball teams not be able to dribble, pass, and catch.

A wise man once told me “Boys have to win to be happy. Girls have to be happy to win.” This great young coach, who I am privileged to call a great friend, has coached multiple sports – boys and girls – at a variety of levels, and I think there is some genius to his motto. Coaching is coaching, and if you are going to be a good one, you better be capable of motivating and relating to a variety of personalities. I think this variety and versatility also applies to fans. The problem often comes with the stereotyping of our athletes. As a teacher and coach for more than a decade now, I can assure you that I have dealt with plenty of boys who do not have nearly the fortitude of several young ladies who I have worked with in the classroom or in an athletic setting.

As another high school sports season is upon us, let’s remember what makes high school sports so important to the growth of student-athletes and let’s also embrace what makes high school sports so different from the higher levels. One of my goals in starting SVCsportszone.com in 2008 was to not only cover the main sports on the boys’ side but to cover all sports including girls. With Title IX recently celebrating its 40th birthday, it is exciting to think about all the amazing history in the Scioto Valley Conference in girls’ sports. This history as well as the sure-to-be incredible present and future is going to give us all some thrills, and be it on the website or via our podcast, I look forward to covering all of it.

Be a part of our podcast show this year. Let me know your thoughts on this article or any topic in today’s SVC or high school sports by emailing me at admin1@svcsportszone.com. You can also be heard on our podcast show by calling 740-569-3254 to leave a voice message.

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