Sunday, March 3, 2013

Proposed district realignments a disservice to local high school sports programs

(In the proposed Class 6A, the days of Las Cruces High and Oñate meeting in district football would be over/Photo by Shari V. Hill)

The New Mexico Activities Association released a proposal this past week that would expand New Mexico high school athletics from five to six classifications, and would in turn put four Las Cruces city schools — Las Cruces High, Mayfield, Oñate and Centennial — in two separate districts. To see a list of the proposed realignments, click here.

In any event, such a proposition was not well received by local coaches and administrators, and one can understand why.

Separating Las Cruces city schools into two leagues within the same classification makes little sense. In a town with four big-school affiliations all together, they should be competing against one another and form rivalries during meaningful district games. Travel would be cheap, local loyalties would run high, and with that, one has the makings of quality high school athletics in place.

But that wouldn't be the case the way things could potentially be constructed. District 6-6A would place Mayfield and Las Cruces High in a common league, that would also have Gadsden and Deming a part of it. Meanwhile, District 3-6A would consist of a three-team district (far from an ideal number) of Oñate, Centennial and Alamogordo. Not good.

Three-team leagues are just not the way to go, from a watered-down competition level as well as difficulties posed in scheduling. So Centennial and Oñate would be in a three-team alignment with Alamogordo, while two other local city schools just miles away are in another league amongst the same classification? At first on paper it might look decent. But upon inspection, it's far from rational.

But lets also say this: It's difficult seeing such alignments remaining this way. Yes, the NMAA will move to the six-class format, but the district proposals are just that. Nothing's etched in stone, and certain teams will appeal. In the assumed 6A, count on one being Deming, while Santa Fe High wouldn't seem far behind after being moved up in classification and placed in a power league consisting of Cleveland, Rio Rancho, Volcano Vista and Cibola.

Perhaps some movement in southern New Mexico could take place, whether it be Deming moving down in classification or Alamogordo being placed in another three-team league in the proposed 6A (consisting of Clovis, Carlsbad and Hobbs). Not that such a scenario would be favorable to the people of Alamo, why with a hellacious travel schedule in league games once district season rolls around.

Could Gadsden be moved down a classification and play in a league with Santa Teresa and Chaparral? It's a numbers game, and enrollment is what's determining who goes to what level, but that could make some sense as well from competition and geographic standpoints.

But here's the most simple and logical solution, although one that also won't be implemented any time soon: Moving back down to four classifications total, where everyone would benefit — at least the schools involved along with the student athletes, which should be the top priority to begin with.

Four classifications would eliminate three-team districts, and perhaps even enhance the playing field. We spoke of District 4-5A — made up of Clovis, Carlsbad and Hobbs. Then, in Class 4A District 4, we have another three-team alignment of eastern New Mexico-based schools Roswell, Artesia and Goddard. A classic example where contraction would be better, as six schools could come together on the highest level, and compete with real regional interest involved.

This would also allow Alamogordo to stay within its current alignment with Mayfield, Oñate, Las Cruces and Gadsden. If Centennial was added to the mix, all the better. Deming would find a proper home amongst its preferred 4A classification, and we're not having this discussion all together.

Makes perfect sense, right? At least to the people of southern New Mexico, which is probably why it isn't happening.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg


Anonymous said...

The only reason NMAA wants to do this is because Texas has 6A. When Texas moved to 5A so did New Mexico.

You are right about common sense Teddy, but as usual it is lacking when it comes out of Albuquerque.

Guess the NMAA felt like doing there own kind of conference realignment. Some how I bet this benefits Northern Schools more then Southern Schools.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the proposal in a time when cost cutting, i.e. travel is at a premium. A lot of states combine as many teams in the same geographic area as possible in order to keep travel costs down, ease scheduling, and create rivalries. This sounds like more of a way to expand playoff seeds instead of doing the schools a service.

Easy fix;

6A- Districts 1, 2, & 5 (Alb. area) combine and form 2 7-team leagues. Top 4 from each league to a regional cross-over playoff with the 4 winners to State.
Districts 3 & 6 (LC area + Deming, Gadsen, and Alamo) combine to form a fairly tight geographic, from a NM stand point, conference. Top 4 teams to a regional cross-over with the eastern NM schools. Top 4 remaining to State.
District 4 becomes a 6A/5A combo with District 4-5A (eastern NM big schools). The 4 6A schools would play the cross-over with the LC area district. The 3 reamaining 5A schools could compete for two spots into the 5A regional rounds.

That's 4 6A leagues for 25 teams with 16 spots into regionals.

5A- District 1 already has 6 teams. Keep it there. Take top 4 into cross-over regionals with the three remaining 5A schools from District 4 plus the winner of the two teams from District 3 who would be in a 5A/4A combo league with District 4-4A. That would be a 7-team league.
Combine Districts 2, 5, & 6 into 2 6-team leagues. Top 4 from each league to a cross-over regional.

That's 4 5A leagues for 24 teams, still with 16 spots into regional.

Did not bother with the smaller leagues, but I bet the same thing could be worked there as well.

Anonymous said...

"Stupid says, stupid does"

Forrest Gump