View From the Press Box 8/22
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
So here we are in the third week of August in Kansas City. It’s hot. Of course it is. It’s the third week of August in Kansas City for that matter it’s the third week of August in Missouri.
None of the above facts should come as any surprise to anyone who has spent more than a year or two in this region. With those facts in mind how did we get to the point where we are playing football in the third week of August in Missouri?
The answer to that question is it didn’t happen overnight and the solution to change it is just as difficult.
Let’s do a little history lesson to see how we got to where we are. For more than a decade Missouri played a season that, if played out to a championship round, would result in 14 games played in 13 weeks. This happened when the playoffs started with a quarter of each class making the postseason and the first three rounds of the playoffs being played in a two-week span.
This system was tweaked a little when the classes expanded from five to six in 2002. The top two classes would play 13 games in 13 weeks while classes 1-4 would stay the same. This allowed for a season to usually begin around Labor Day and end on Thanksgiving weekend. Easy enough, a hot weekend at the start but in the end the championship games were moved to the then new Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis so it seemed like a good system.
That was until the push was made to expand the postseason to include half the schools in each class because with a three game district season there were plenty of districts where two schools were very worthy of continuing their season only to see it end because of an arbitrary district process that would put schools together not because of strength of program but because of geographic location.
Ok, two schools seems fair. So what do you do?
Well you like the 10-game regular season so you just add another week and move the season up so you are playing the first week of the season before Labor Day Weekend in most years. Ok, that seems easy enough so that is what happened.
Move forward a few years and there is another push to say the three-game district season that decides who gets in and who stays home isn’t really representative of the best teams playing at the most important times of the year.
Some districts are weaker while others are loaded just because of geography. That’s true. If you use geography and school size as your guide you will never be able to equal proportion all of the schools into equal districts. Plus it’s high school football so who is good one year can drastically change from one year to the next especially when you get into the smaller classes.
That brings us to the next development. Our current system where every team makes the “playoffs.” A quick note. Playoffs by definition are a contest where a team or person has qualified and then are put in competition with each other to determine an outcome. When every team makes the “playoffs” it’s not a playoff it’s a postseason.
Ok. So everyone makes the postseason which turned and 10-game regular season into a nine-game regular season. Ok, if that’s what you want the season essentially stays the same in terms of games played and timeline stays the same as well.
All is good. Not really.
Classes 1-5 see Class 6 get to play all of its postseason games with a full week in between and decided, hey, we need that too. So now reality sets in. If you want to play a now true 15-week season in 15 weeks that means games will start in the third week of August.
Ok, we’ve taken a long path to get here but here we are. It’s the third week of August. Games are being played. In the Metro most games are being started at 8 p.m. because of the heat. It’s August in Kansas City. In fact it’s August in Missouri and if they were playing it’s August in Kansas.
Last time I checked it’s really hot in August in the Midwest. So what do you do?
Go to a different system where only half the teams make the “playoffs” and shorten the regular season?
That would involve a very radical idea where districts would become the most important thing and archaic conference alignments would go away for football.
That’s probably not going to happen because god forbid you don’t get to play that all-important rival that the kids of today don’t care about.
Shorten the season?
I don’t think we are going in that direction. Football is king and nobody wants to play an eight-game regular season.
Bump the season back?
Well we wouldn’t want to push back the five-month extravaganza that is high school basketball. I love high school basketball, but the season is too long and no important games in the sport are played before the calendar changes to the new year.
So what is the answer?
Less teams in the “playoffs.” Which means not every team. Also, we went more than 20 years with a format that saw teams play three games in the span of just over two weeks. I think if you asked every coach or player at every point in that process whether they would prefer or it would have benefitted them to play three games in three weeks they would tell you they just want to play and win. They don’t care how they got there.
This is how we got to games being played in the harshest weather our region can offer. How we get from here to the next point is up to those in charge.
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