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 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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One Response to All-League Format Change

  1. jfm says:

    I know this is an older post, but hey, I just read it. You don’t mention cross-country which has always been up for debate. The number varies each year depending on how many schools bring a full team and not how many athletes participate. In 2013, 57 varsity girls (54 boys) competed in the conference meet. The top 15 were selected as all league. That is 26 percent. According to your article this is pretty low. I agree.

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