COLUMN: It’s time to change high school schedules

Snowing during local baseball and softball games, sizzling hot conditions on the gridiron, basketball players contending less than a week after football season concludes?

Anyone from this area knows these are all legit possibilities. Depending on what school one hails from, any one of these could be a huge disadvantage, especially the last one.

Scheduling for future games must change or, at the very least, begin later. Make every team as even as possible.

Let’s start with football. The season begins during the last week or two of August. No complaints here. However, West Virginia teams should not have a bye week.

Seriously. Squads smart enough like Weir High will take its bye during Week 11 and get two weeks rest before playoffs begin. Let W.Va. teams begin a week after Ohio starts because of the playoff rounds.

Next, speaking of Weir High, it had an amazing run in the postseason before falling to Fairmont Senior in the Class AA semifinals. As soon as it ended, the Red Riders only had a day or two to prepare for basketball season. What?

Quarterback/wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner/punt returner Sebastian Spencer had to miss the first few weeks due to a lingering injury (and continues to miss time). At the very least, if Weir High had two weeks to prepare, head coach Mike Granato would have more time to find a replacement. Or, maybe the extra time would get Spencer ready.

If you were at the Dec. 5 opener between Weir High and Oak Glen, you can see the Red Riders were nowhere near ready to compete. Talking with Granato during his team’s photo day, he said the Golden Bears refused to reschedule (they would have if Weir High made the championship game).

In one aspect, that is pretty crappy of Oak Glen to do that. In another, can you blame the Bears? Starting off the season with one of their biggest rivals, they absolutely wanted that victory, especially after Weir High upset them in the tournament last winter.

Boys basketball must start at least a week later. No more November games. Start no sooner than Dec. 10 year in and year out, no matter what day of the week it falls on. If it’s on a Sunday, start on Dec. 11. Maybe it’s a little late with Christmas only two weeks away, but then play three times a week more often. It’s basketball, not hockey or football.

Girls basketball beginning in early December is fine. Late November is a little too soon, especially if volleyball or soccer teams reach state tournaments.

How many years has Big Red boys basketball suffered because of this? Call me crazy and that it doesn’t matter, but Steubenville is 4-0 so far. It had a good team going into the season, but imagine if Reno Saccoccia’s crew went on another deep run in the playoffs. Big Red would be, at best, 3-1. It took Big Red a little while to get going last year after winning it all on the football field.

Also, not only do players need to reset their focus, but fans need it just as much. Going back to Steubenville, everybody was still reeling from that unforgettable championship season. Even after basketball started, it was still about football. The banner raising night and MaxPreps trophy presentation prove this point.

Come tournament time, this may mean an extra week of playing (two if teams don’t play three games per week too often). That’s fine, and do you know why? Then baseball and softball wouldn’t begin until the last week of March or first of April.

Most schools don’t start until this time anyway, at least in Ohio. Ask reporter Andrew Grimm how he felt about covering baseball in a mini snowstorm in the middle of March. It obviously could still snow later in the month, but then we can just blame global warming. Simple.

In all seriousness, the middle of March is still winter time. Most likely, many games would be canceled or postponed anyway because many fields aren’t ready yet, thus starting later in March or early April would happen regardless.

I cannot speak from experience, but it has to be hard to go from one sport to the other in only one or two weeks and worry about school all at the same time. Luckily teenagers’ bodies can handle it better than older ones. Still, it’s a lot.


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