Friday, November 30th, 2012
Mixed reactions for adding two games
By Robb Hemmelgarn
Earlier this year, the Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors adopted a proposal that increases the high school basketball regular season from 20 games to 22 games beginning this winter.
It is the first facelift to the regular season slate in more than three decades, as local coaches and athletic directors still wade through the positives and negatives of the adjustment.
"I always thought the kids who participate in all sports are being pulled way too far already. I thought they should go back to 18 games rather than increase to 22," commented Coldwater's athletic director Eric Goodwin. "You are also not adding two games, it is actually four games when you include the girls. This puts a strain on gym schedules and everything that comes with that. Then, once you figure in the football playoff runs and possible weather situations, you are forcing almost every team to play three games in one week. On the other hand, I do understand for some schools such as New Knoxville, Botkins and Jackson Center that this is a revenue source they count on, so there are positives."
While the change, first proposed in the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association, is certainly a benefit for high profile teams by giving them an opportunity to travel to various national showcases, it will also benefit local holiday tournaments over Christmas break.
"I think coaches in other parts of the state wanted the option in order to play in holiday tournaments where if you lose you are finished, but if you win you keep playing," remarked Marion Local's head coach Kurt Goettemoeller. "Some of these schools may even be traveling to out-of-state tournaments and extra games were needed for that."
Fort Recovery's head coach Brian Patch is excited for the modification, as he prepares for one of the toughest schedules in the Grand Lake area, including dates with Miamisburg, Northmont, Lincolnview, Lima Shawnee and against Greenview in the "Flying To The Hoop' holiday tournament.
"The new setup definitely gives some flexibility when you set your schedule," he explained. "Another way it helps is from a financial stand point, as the extra boys and girls games will generate revenue. For us, the basketball programs fund the other sports, so being able to create additional income is a plus for all of our programs."
For schools whose football teams traditionally enjoy extended playoff runs, the additional games will undoubtedly equal additional migraines for coaches and athletic directors.
As Coldwater and Marion Local each play in this weekend's state football championships, their first few basketball games are already postponed. The additional two games could take the place of dates previously used for making those up.
"Most schools will get in the full schedule, but it may be a headache in some instances," commented St. Henry's head coach Eric Rosenbeck, who missed two weeks of practice with several of his players because of the football postseason. "With the MAC's (Midwest Athletic Conference's yearly success in football, I see that as being the biggest obstacle. Also, if there is a bad winter storm we will be forced to play more weekday games, which could lead to less quality and intense practices. It will definitely be something different, but overall it should be okay."
New Knoxville's athletic director Jerry Vanderhorst doesn't have football revenue to bulk up his budget, so while an extra couple of games will help on the financial books, he is concerned there aren't many other benefits.
"Our coaches weren't wild about expanding the schedule. We rarely play on weeknights, so now they only have one or two open Saturdays to scout or just have a night off," he explained. "Also, when we figure in weather cancellations or delayed starts due to football, our league is really in a bind. On the positive side though, we will see an increase of about $4,000 just on season ticket sales by adding one game each for boys and girls."
On the girls' side, football doesn't create any difficulties, so St. Marys' head coach Kelly Fulmer is ready to embrace what lies ahead.
"Of the coaches I have spoken with, it is pretty mixed. Some are really excited and some aren't," she pointed out. "I know teams who expect to have good years are looking forward to it, while teams who expect to have rough seasons aren't. We are sort of indifferent about it. We picked up games with Lima Senior and Sidney, which should be pretty good games for us."
Basketball purists may not notice anything different in the beginning, but could traditionalists have a valid argument about the extra games when individual career records start to fall?
"I don't think that matters. The three-point line was also a big difference, and I haven't seen any footnotes for that," Patch reasoned. "There is also more physical contact allowed now versus years ago as well. Times and eras change in how the game is played and that is just how it works. Records may reflect some of those changes, but I don't think there should be an asterisk indicating those changes."
While it remains to be seen whether two additional games will have much impact for or against, schools are not required to add the contests if they can't work it out or it isn't in their best interest.
"I don't think it can do anything but help get you ready for the end of year, and I feel it will be really good for the players since it gives them two extra nights to play," explained New Bremen's head coach Adam Dougherty. "Although you may feel like you have to play the two extra games to keep up with everybody else, in the end you just have to do what is best for your program and your school."