It's been awhile since I penned something online, but this is a big one. So, now that the WIAA announced their five division plan and we ve mapped them all out for you it s time to breakdown the winners and losers and see if this thing has some legs.
Division 1 Teams – Most likely the biggest opponent to the plan will be D1 schools. They go from being represented by 8 teams at the state tournament to 4 teams. Of note, they are also having about 40 less schools in their division to battle for those four spots.
The two arguments I keep hearing for keeping them at 8 are 1) The fans deserve to see more D1 Teams because they have the best players, teams and overall basketball and 2) Since the D1 schools have the highest attendance and represent the most students then they should have a higher representation at the state tournament.
For the first argument, while I whole heartily agree that I d rather watch D1 basketball, the WIAA is not about the fans or the quality of basketball. If they were only concerned about the fans and quality of basketball they would seed entire divisions and we d end up with 8 Milwaukee teams at state every year. The WIAA represents the schools, not the fans.
Speaking of representation, in the eyes of the WIAA each school is equal. They all pay the same dues and they are all supposed to have an equal voice. Maybe if the school with 2000 kids wants to pay 100 times as much for WIAA dues as the school with 50 then I could buy this argument.
Madison – The WIAA is going to cut out Thursday morning and the Thursday games will consist of Division 5 and Division 4. So right off the bat, I d be surprised to see a lot of the Wednesday night arrivers that have come in the past. Now if you are coming down for the whole tournament you can leave on Thursday morning, even if you re far away and save one nights hotel money.
There will also be less people grabbing lunch in between sessions on Thursday and overall fewer people coming down on Thursdays since many won t want to see Divisions 4 and 5 respectfully.
Basketball Fans – Speaking of divisions 4 and 5, overall there will not be as good of basketball being played in Madison next March if this passes. Of course there are smaller schools that excel and can compete with anyone but overall the bigger recruits, better players and better basketball is played at the D1 level.
Basketball Fans – I know what you re saying, how can this be on both. But hear me out on this. The sectionals have the potential to be AWESOME. If the WIAA can figure out some facilities issues and getting a ticket is not an issue for fans. Imagine all the great hoops you ll be able to watch around the state the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before state. These games always have a better atmosphere and that will only be ratcheted up a notch with better teams involved.
Private Schools – It looks like for now there are no plans to do any sort of jostling of divisions based on any factors including private/public, rural/urban and open enrollment. The private schools did a remarkable job presenting their case over the past few months and at the area meetings, and it has seemed to pay off. They felt like every school in the WIAA should be equal and equality is a theme throughout this proposed plan.
Small D1s, Small D2s – If you currently look at the enrollments breakdown for division two thing stand out. The smaller D1s that have 950-1000 or so students and the small D2s that are between 350-400. Both may play teams well over 2.5 times bigger than them. The proposed plan has 2 to 1 or less ratios between largest and smallest division schools throughout which has been a big point of emphasis thus far.
WIAA – If this is passed, I feel the WIAA will benefit both in goodwill and financially. Goodwill wise, outside of the Division 1 schools I feel like many of the schools, especially in the new D4 and new D2 will feel a sense of excitement and hope in regards to their chances of reaching state. I also feel that the crowds these schools will bring to Madison will be great.
Some have said with getting rid of two games on Thursday the WIAA will lose money. However, if you look at the whole instead of the parts, it seems to me that the WIAA will end up ahead financially. Below is my take on the financial side:
- Thursday Morning Session
- Potential general admissions on Thursday games as a whole
- Smaller schools have traditionally brought more fans than larger schools
- Extra game on Saturday (yes still only one session but that three championship game session will be packed)
- Four extra sectional semi-finals and finals (these are greatly attended)
- Potential to secure bigger and better facilities for D1 and D2 sectionals which could lead to bigger crowds
- Talk about not doing Wednesday shootaround save on facility cost and hotels
- Have teams leave day after they lose (currently they stay in hotel til end of tournament)
I personally think this will pass. While the district football proposal gained a lot of steam right away and sputtered out down the stretch, I feel like this plan will gain steam. It simply doesn t have the obvious issues that the football plan did (scheduling, distance, jv schedule,etc).