EMAIL: Shayne, I heard you mention some rule changes on your podcast shows this past year. What do you think the league needs to look at changing? I know you had something about golf on one show and I think CC/Track as well. I have always been a big fan of SVC golf, so please share those changes if possible. Thanks – love the website and I love the podcast show…can’t wait for the fall for SVC SPORTS TALK to start back up!

My biggest concerns come in some of the secondary sports. I guess that I kind of cringe using the term secondary sports, but I think most people understand that each season has a few select sports that are going to dominate the media coverage, and others have continued to fight for that same type of coverage. In fact, one of the things we pride ourselves on here at is trying to make sure we cover all of our SVC athletes at a high level.

As for the question at hand, I would probably start on the golf course. I think SVC golf has been a successful conference in its first few decades of existence. I think the conference schedule does a nice job of playing a variety of courses which allows the league to find the most talented, the deepest, and the most consistent golf team as the league champion each season.

My one concern would be in the all-league format. I am not a fan for the league allowing a player – especially a POY candidate – the opportunity to drop his or her lowest score. I think this takes a valuable component in terms of consistency out of the equation. As I said before, I think the league does a great job of putting players through a variety of courses where a variety of shot-making is needed, and for players to be excused for shooting a high 40s, low 50s type of round is not good. I realize the rule was put into play to protect players from getting hurt or sick, and I completely support that perspective. In fact, last year, I know this played a role in the all-league team in a situation where an athlete was hurt and forced to miss a match. I feel the league can take the way they do it now and combine my rule to make the overall product better. I feel a player should have to play in seven of the eight overall matches to make the All-SVC squad; however, if a player plays in all eight matches, then all eight matches should be included in the player’s final average

One constant thing I hear in resistance of my idea is the concern of a player “sandbagging.” People throughout the league are afraid that coaches or players would purposely miss a round at a tough course or a round late in the year when they know they are comfortable in the top-half of the individual standings. To me, this is a legitimate concern; however, a coach and an all-league caliber player would have to be willing to hurt their team quite a bit to not play in a match. Plus, if you are getting late in the year the current rule allows you to do this anyway.

My other big change comes in cross country and track. I am not a big fan of the one, big SVC Meet winner-take-all format. I would like to see the running sports take on more of a golf format that would allow the league to test more consistency and allow fans to become familiar with more athletes and teams. I know the people closest to these respective sports are strongly against this idea. I respect that, but it is still my opinion that expanding the season would help promote the sport locally much better.

Over the past few weeks I have had emails thanking for covering the track postseason with some individual pictures and our new Shoutomatic feature. Emails have basically said in a variety of ways that they feel cross country, track (and really spring sports in general), and even golf have been slighted in terms of an equal amount of media coverage. Most of the emails want to know what needs to be done to help promote these kids more.

My response to this is simple. Even though I love certain sports, I can truly say that I like them all. I enjoy covering all the sports, but some sports make it easier for media and fans to get to know their best teams and athletes. Sports that play a more complete league schedule are able to develop those rivalries and those storylines that are easier to follow. I realize the running sports do not really allow for eight league meets; although, I do think this would make for an interesting season running different courses in different weather conditions. Under the current formats, you rarely see the league’s best run against one another throughout the regular season, and in many cases, coaches purposely hold elite athletes out of certain events in certain meets throughout the year. Often times, an elite athlete can fly under the radar and can quickly become a league champion, a district champion, and often a state qualifier before the average SVC fan even becomes familiar with the athlete and his or her team.

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