Locker Room: It’s called fixing your own problems

    One of the few positive things about getting old is sometimes it means you’ve been around long enough to see changes people in power have made that didn’t work, and see how long it takes them to figure it out. Usually political correctness is a problem with making good decisions these days.
     And now suddenly the Virginia High School League has realized that football season might be a little too long. It also might be spending too much time listening to people who’s priority is not football. But just in case you would like to know, the length of football season is exactly one week longer than it was 25 years ago. By the way. Are any of the other seasons longer? Just wondering. Seems like everybody plays all year, and football just sort of got started. But as has been the case all along football is the only sport that gets legislated.
    Who made the season longer by a week? The very same people who now say we’ve got to cut it back! I think it’s what they call a what goes around comes around sort of thing. The VHSL.
       Who voted on all the region changes? The VHSL. Who established there would need to be a fifth state playoff game to decide the issue? The VHSL. Who fixed the system so 2-8 and even a 1-9 teams could or would have to go to the playoffs? The VHSL. It’s political correctness. Trying to be all things to all people. Worthy effort, but it never works, and it never will. 
     Championships are for those that win and win often, more often than anybody else. Playoffs are designed to include teams who have proven themselves to be competitive and deserving of post-season competition. There’s that word again. Competition! Not participation. Competition!
     So now there are complaints about unlimited off season practice except for designated down times. People say the demands are a bit much. Those that don’t mind demands on being competitive love such talk. But it could be handled with little or no trouble it seems to me. I understand all the demands, the long hours, and spending time away from families by coaches and they don’t always get compensated well at all for the extra time. So eliminate another week of the off-season for football, or make it another total 10-day dead period in addition to what’s already in the schedule. That seems very reasonable to me and fair for everyone. You don’t need a committee, or a month of discussions. Who’s in charge? Make the cut.
    But if you’re the football coach don’t get upset if the basketball or baseball coach tries to get those players on the field or in the gym. All off-season cutbacks need to be across the board.
     And there are some that say take out the open date, not rest, play 10 straight weeks. But what about the concerns for injuries? A lot of people are willing to look the other way to get what they want.
     How about taking a week out of the playoffs? How about it? How do you do that? You whack the number of teams that quality. That sounds harsh doesn’t it? But again, the playoffs are about accomplishment, competition, winning. The participation stuff ends with the regular season.
      There are eight Class 4, Region D teams, all quality and it takes three weeks to declare a region champion. Then a state semi-final and the final and to win it all you must win five games. That’s a 15-game high school season. Who did that? The VHSL did that.
      What was it like 25 years ago? Pulaski County used to be a member of the old Western Region. There were 12 teams that could quality. Four did, and the region winner was crowned in two weeks. Why isn’t it like that today? Because qualifications got soft.
     So why did it happen? Sad hearts started being concerned about the teams that hardly ever qualified for the playoffs, and started trying to figure out how the system could be watered down so at least from time to time they could. What you got was another round of the playoffs and you got to see a bunch of 2-8 teams get whacked by 45 by the top seed. Now tell me what a rewarding experience that is. Or how about the 1-9 Pulaski County team that got in because of the ridiculous system only to be the first team in state history to make the playoffs and finish 1-10. Wasn’t that a grand experience.
    There is talk of all kinds of concerns, and how many different areas need to be looked into, and how many people can we find to come up with as many ideas as possible. I like Billy Haun. I really do. I think he’s a fine fellow. I count him as a friend. He is the executive secretary of the VHSL. He’s a former athlete, a former coach, and he knows what to do. But I’m sure there’s a lot of pushing and pulling in various directions. They say they must get a week out of the system by 2021. I know that Billy knows he could figure out how to get rid of anything he wants with a cup of coffee and a couple of hours. But that’s with just two or three other reasonable minded people who understand. That would not include all the rest, the ones with agendas and little understanding.
     But sometimes when you are in a lofty position you can’t just slam a door. You must let a bunch of different people think they had something to do with making a decision. I guess that brings up back to political correctness again.
     But do you want to shorten football season? Do you really feel it’s necessary? Do you really think it’s a good idea to shorten the regular season when so many schools depend on football revenue to survive? Common sense please. I offer the following.
      1- Be nice to the coaches, and give the kids some more beach time. Install another 10-day dead period and put it in early June. That way there wouldn’t be but a couple more weeks after they return and the July 4 dead period would roll around. Make sure there’s about a week down before reporting for that first official full day of preseason practice.
      2- That would also eliminate the talk about cutting out a pre-season game. That “game” is financially important to programs. Besides, the game is also counted toward one of your allowable preseason practice days. So that does not create additional activity, plus that’s important preparation for your team. 
      3- You need to keep an open date. You have concerns about being down at other times of the year, what’s the difference? Open dates are important. Teams need a break. There are bumps and bruises. Keep them, but just one.
      4- Take a serious look at the region alignments. I understand about travel, and some other issues, but the regions need to be like sized. They need to include as close as possible the same number of teams. Stop making exceptions to the rules. 
      5- Get rid of the 2-8 stuff, and when you balance the regions, base everything on competition, cut down the region qualifiers, you cut a game out of the playoffs. The state champion is crowned the first week of December, not two weeks before Christmas.
    There you have it. I’ve just taken more than a week out of the off-season training program, and a week out of the state playoffs. That’s more down time and the season ends a week sooner. What else do we need to do today?
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot