Sports in The Dominion Post

This article appeared in the Dominion Post Newspaper on March 16, 2004.
SSAC'splan isn't perfect, but it's right


Normally, this space is used to try and write something that is appeasing to a general audience interested in high school athletics in this state.

For that, you'll have to wait until next week.

This one is simply for the basketball coaches and principals of this state.

After spending last week in Charleston for the girls' state tournament, the general consensus was the new basketball proposal that would eliminate sectional tournaments and create four super regions is going to fail.

One radio announcer told me, "It's sinking faster than the Titanic."

I know there are still schools out there that have yet to send in their reply to the Secondary School Activities Commission.

Look, let me start off by saying this new proposal doesn't fix all the problems we have in this state with qualifying for the state tournament, but it is a step in the right direction.

I know there are schools out there that are perfectly happy with their situation right now. I know there are schools that like the sectional tournaments because it has a local flavor to it, it's less travel for students and fans and it can bring a nice paycheck.

With all of that said, I just have one question to ask of the coaches and principals: Do you really love the game of basketball?

No, I mean do you really love the spirit, the competition and the madness that comes around every March?

Because, I believe, if you really looked deep within yourselves and asked yourself what's the right thing to do, then you would vote for this proposal.

Is it fair that one region could have three power teams and only one can go to states, while there are other regions that will qualify a team simply because they were the best of the worst?

Look, I know it's nice to go to Charleston. You get to stay in the hotels and go to the mall. There's the world's finest barbecue sandwiches at Joey's and you get out of school for a few days.

Wouldn't you rather go knowing you earned it and not because you had a decent year from a region that is weak?

We're talking about school administrators here and coaches that have sworn to take in our children and teach them about values and morals.

By voting against this proposal, all you're telling kids is that it's OK to take the easy way out. It's all right to take something that you truly haven't earned.

Some schools will vote against it simply because they feel they'll never get to go to Charleston again. What kind of attitude is that teaching kids?

"Oh, hey, little junior, forget about hard work and trying to become a better team, because you've got no chance in Hades."

Look, the bottom line is you want the state tournament to be a special honor, something that will feel like once in a lifetime.

Well, after this past week's girls' tournament, I can honestly tell you it felt like a tomb, because nobody wants to watch a bunch of mediocre teams that have no business being there.

And the upcoming boys' tournament won't be much better.

So, I urge you to vote for this proposal. Trust me, the regional tournaments can still provide as much excitement as the sectionals. There will still be upsets and Cinderellas. You'll still get good crowds and a great atmosphere.

And you'll get a better state tournament and you'll get what's fair and I believe you'll be doing our children a favor in the long run.

You have until March 22.

JUSTINJACKSON covers high school sports for The Dominion Post. Reach him at