Every year this time of the year you hear the same gripes from the same people. You hear about the season being too long(16 games), the season is played too late into December, or people wine about other Districts having bye weeks throughout the playoffs.
My problem is, you rarely hear solutions to these problems, or when there could be a solution Districts right these solutions because it kills their traditions. Out east Thanksgiving Games are still the “thing to do”, or they can’t start football season a week early due to vacations. The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League(WPIAL) is against going to more Class’s because it could potentially kill the “Heinz Field experience”. And for whatever reason the WPIAL still sets a 16 team playoff field in all 4 Class’s.
So why all the wining and dining every single year when no one wants change and keep the status quo going.
In order to shorten the season, sacrifices has to happen. The adults in the room must get together and realize that what they’re doing isn’t working. If it was working then you wouldn’t be hearing these gripes EVERY SINGLE SEASON.
Out east, there is a solution to the Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl tradition. Maybe I’m shortsighted here, but play your playoff games that week on Thanksgiving. I do understand those games are usually set for a rivalry game but play those rivalries earlier in the season. And those schools that aren’t in the playoffs could also set up a 10th or 11th game on Thanksgiving as well. Of course those Turkey Bowl’s won’t be as meaningful as in the past, but meaningful games will be played for a different reason.
WPIAL, I do know that the league plays only a 9 week regular season to hold the 16 team playoff. But the league could propose a 9 week regular season statewide and cut the playoff field in half at the same time. Lets be for real; 5th and 6th place teams in 3A and 4A don’t belong in the playoffs. And in 1A and 2A there is such a tremendous change in level of competition between the 5th and 6th best teams and the rest of the field it’s not funny. All right this year, Brentwood and Neshannock certainly proved on the field that they belong in the playoffs. But are they legit WPIAL Championship Contenders. I really don’t think so. So honestly preventing them from qualifying for the playoffs isn’t that bad of an idea.
Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association(PIAA), I think its time to go to 8 or 16 Districts. I can’t foresee Districts like the WPIAL willing to break apart so its easier to merge a few. Off the bat I’d merge the WPIAL(D7) and Pittsburgh City League(D8). Then I’d merge D1 and D12(Philly Catholic League). Now you’re down to 10 Districts, where it gets interesting is how would you merge the remaining Districts to get to 8. Could you completely merge 2 Districts, or could you split a District in half like D11 and place one half in D2 and D1/12 for example. I’ll leave that up to the PIAA and individual Districts to ponder how to merge from 12 Districts to 8. Fun to think about though.
This proposal won’t happen because it makes too much sense. But I’ll propose it again:
Step 1: Start the season 1 week earlier;
Step 2: 9 week season statewide;
Step 3: Cut the playoff field statewide in half.
That in itself ends the season late November rather than mid December. The room has too many men w/ egos and are unwilling to compromise because of set traditions(which I understand). Until them men in the room are willing to compromise about these traditions, NOTHING WILL CHANGE. So stop complaining about it and accept reality.