Think back a year ago when Morenci's new school basketball schedule was about to unfold. The changes that league members made were announced the previous spring and the dismay began then. We also remember that an editorial in this space took the attitude of "Let's give it a try." After all, there was at least one state in the union that routinely paired girls and boys varsity games for years. It was just was just normal scheduling for them, and perhaps the Tri-County Conference would adjust to the change, also.
When the actual schedule was released, it was obvious that this would be a hard sell to anyone. Even those who favored allowing girls to play the same night as the boys and to give them the opportunity to play the "main feature" second game were perplexed.
The schedule made no sense. There was no rhythm, no regularity. Occasionally the junior varsity and varsity of each gender paired up for a night together, but mostly the two varsity teams shared the evening—something that sorely disappointed coaches who wanted to watch the younger players without having to travel another night away from their families.
The value of the schedule wasn't just to tell a fan who the opponent would be, but to lay out which night of the week and when.
The new schedule was an obvious flop to players, coaches and fans alike, so this year league representatives made some changes. Is it more orderly? Yes. Is it still confusing? Yes. Is it still frustrating? Definitely. For example, this season the boys and girls play five nights on the same date, but in different locations. For example, the girls travel to Whiteford on the same night that the boys play Whiteford at home. There was a time when that arrangement was avoided at all costs, and now it's become a standard feature of the TCC schedule.
We can't imagine there will be much satisfaction with this year's schedule and we urge athletic directors to continue looking around at other leagues for ideas. The Buckeye Border Conference, for example, has an easy solution to sharing Friday nights by splitting the season in half. Perhaps there are other possibilities if that isn't acceptable.
Conversations such as this one always seem a little odd in years when exchange students are enrolled here. They're asked about differences between their home educational system and what they're now experiencing in the U.S. One response is guaranteed: "There's so much emphasis on athletics. Back home, sports aren't even part of school."
It's a good reminder for those who might see school as a vehicle for athletics. It's academics that lead the way, no matter what night of the week the gymnasium is in use.