Blogging Frankly / Sports

Blogging Frankly: My proposal for a new classification system

I needed awhile to think rationally Tuesday. So instead of blasting the living bejesus out of the decision to split Class 4A into two divisions for football, basketball volleyball, baseball and softball, I decided to look at some numbers, watch something to make me laugh and go to sleep.

First of all, everybody agrees that there is a huge gap in enrollment in numbers that creates an unequal playing field in Class 4A. Nickerson (enrollment 299) simply cannot be expected to compete in every sport with Buhler (642). Nickerson could get Buhler in some sports, but year to year, Buhler’s enrollment ensures a deeper talent pool than Nickerson.

And Nickerson is far from the smallest 4A, while Buhler isn’t close to being the biggest in 4A.

Tuesday, we found out the 4A schools opted to split its class into two 32-team divisions for the aforementioned sports. (Some great reporting from Pat Sangimino, by the way, finding people like McPherson boys basketball coach Kurt Kinnamon who vehemently disagreed with the decision.)

The easy thing to do – and if you were on Twitter when the news broke, you know what I’m talking about – is to rip apart the decision. The angst ranged from legitimate – “It’s going to water down the competition” – to the dramatic – “Will the trophies get a trophy too?” (that one was mine, by the way)

Consider that this fall, eight state volleyball tournaments will be contested in Kansas. Eight boys basketball and eight girls basketball titles will be awarded next March.  For a state like Kansas, awarding eight state titles in any sport is beyond absurd.

And by the way, let’s not call the local newspapers to complain about lack of coverage of your team at state. I doubt there’s a newspaper in Kansas that can staff eight state basketball tournaments.

What’s done is done. Thinking something is about to change for the better is as ridiculous as thinking we’ll wake up tomorrow and the Royals will be in first place.

I’m somewhat of an optimist. Being a Royals and Chiefs fan, it’s kind of ingrained in me. Maybe, just maybe, this is the first step to a much-needed overhaul to the way the Kansas State High School Activities Association classifies schools.

Better options are plentiful. Yes, someone is always going to be unhappy, but instead of diluting Kansas high school sports, let’s make it more competitive.

My proposal is this: 6A and 5A increase from 32 schools each to 40 each. The 38 public schools with the highest enrollments are in Class 6A, and the top two private school enrollments go to 6A as well. Using that, this year’s 6A would have included Wichita West, Shawnee Mission South, Leavenworth, Mill Valley, Liberal and Topeka Seaman, plus Bishop Carroll and St. Thomas Aquinas. Only Liberal would have a legitimate beef with moving to 6A, since it has never been 6A before and is located in a rural part of the state.

5A would have added Topeka Highland Park, Pittsburg, Bonner Springs, Winfield, McPherson, DeSoto, KC Sumner, Paola, Buhler, Ottawa, Spring Hill, Basehor-Linwood, Tonganoxie, Rose Hill, Independence and KC Piper. Most of those schools have either been 5A in the last 20 years or are located in or near a metro area that should allow them to compete. The only school that would have a legitimate complaint is Independence.

4A becomes the next 40 schools. That would mean minimal change, other than dropping the eight smallest 4A schools to 3A, unless one is a private school. The biggest 4A school this year would have been Mulvane (enrollment 565). The smallest would have been Smoky Valley or Royal Valley (290). Wichita Collegiate was one of the eight smallest 4As, so instead of dropping to 3A, Collegiate would have stayed 4A.

3A would increase from 64 schools to 72. Yes, that means substates have nine teams instead of eight, but if you noticed 4A baseball and softball, many regional tournaments had nine teams. If that’s not an issue, then it shouldn’t be an issue for 3A volleyball and basketball. 4A schools moving to 3A would be either Royal Valley or Smoky Valley, Larned, Baxter Springs, Concordia, Goodland, Hesston, Frontenac and Rock Creek. The biggest 3A would have been 290, while the smallest would have been Pittsburg Colgan (159).

2A and 1A would be unchanged.

If KSHSAA doesn’t come up with a new classification system, before long, 3A schools will demand a split. So will 2A. And there will always be the whining about private schools. Some people believe private schools should be in their own classification, which means it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we could see 11 state basketball tournaments in the near future in Kansas.

By the way, speaking of people wanting a separate classification for private schools, I’d really look forward to Olathe Heritage Christian opening substate basketball against Bishop Miege, and Trinity Catholic going toe to toe with Bishop Carroll in district football.

Change isn’t a bad thing. I don’t consider the split of 4A a change though. It’s something Clark Griswold would do. It’s plugging a leak at Hoover Dam with a wad of gum.

I do like changes. But let’s change for the right reasons, not just to hand out more trophies.

-Brad Hallier, Blogging Frankly


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