One night during the district baseball tournament in May, the Fort Osage baseball team boarded their yellow school bus, headed south to I-70, passed by the exit for Blue Springs South before heading another 111 miles to Columbia for a district semifinal baseball game.
The Indians lost to those same Blue Springs South Jaguars, whose exit they passed by more than 90 minutes prior, 6-0.
The next night In girls soccer, Rock Bridge and HIckman, separated by just 4.8 miles on Providence in Columbia, both traveled to Blue Springs South for a district semifinal match. Rock Bridge by the way played Columbia Battle two days earlier… in Blue Springs, an 8-0 win.
At some point there needs to be a conversation about change in how district tournaments are contested.
In football, every district game is played at the site of the high seed. In a Covid year, basketball was the same.
So why aren’t we doing this in other sports?
With diesel fuel hovering at $5 a gallon and the average school bus getting 10 miles a gallon on a good day, every trip to a game costs fifty cents a mile for travel. That’s around $250 in fuel alone for that district semifinal. I’m not here debating the finances of driving a bus to a game, but there’s a way to cut that number in half.
The above situation is one of the most egregious in the state, a combination of Kansas City having too many big class schools to fill just one or two districts so teams get shifted in multiple directions. Another group of baseball teams played in Neosho.
To me there’s two solutions. The first being to follow the football model and play at the high seeds. Additionally it rewards a good season with the ability to play home district games, provided your facilities can host.
The second may be an even better solution, which is to also take a book from football, volleyball and basketball and have 16 districts instead of eight. Keeping districts more tightly put together in geographic areas allows just one team to potentially have to travel in a sectional round and also avoids the head-scratching events that have two teams traveling halfway across the state instead of playing locally.