Monday, January 4, 2010

How to ease the budget cuts

The recession is having a bad effect on most people, businesses and schools.

I see a lot of changes in the future for the schools, especially in athletics. With all the state schools facing budget cuts, athletics will not be spared.

While driving last night and not paying attention to the road, I started thinking about this and ways schools could cut some costs in athletics. This was brought on by the report that Pocola decided not to play in the eighth-grade county tournament because of the budget cuts.

Pocola’s decision has not been confirmed, this was just something I heard the other day.

Anyway, let’s look at how schools can cut costs. We will go over football first, since it is the most expensive, but does bring in the most revenue.

First off, get rid of the big districts. There isn’t any reason to have eight-team districts. Reduce the districts to four schools with only the top two getting into the playoffs.

That would be a natural for the county 2A schools. Talihina, Heavener, Panama and Pocola would be in the same district. The non-district schedule would be fairly easy to schedule also with Wilburton, Hartshorne, Stigler, Spiro, Vian, Central Sallisaw and several other similar sized schools fairly close.

Plus, in the playoffs, none of the schools would have a long trip in the first round. This district could play the district with Wilburton, Hartshorne, Antlers and Vian in the first round. First vs. second in both games. Yes, they probably would have played in the regular season but so what? This would also draw more fans than if a team had to travel 140 miles like Wynnewood did to play Talihina in the first round.

There would not be two classes in eight man. Arkoma and Bokoshe would be in a district with Gans and Keota. Easy call.

In 3A, Spiro, Stigler, Roland and Eufaula or Checotah.

Poteau’s four-team district would be the Pirates, Sallisaw, Muldrow and Stilwell. Still some long trips, but nothing too bad. If Stilwell needed to be sent north, then Broken Bow would take its place.

Some would say the non-district schedule would be tough to fill. Play an eight-game season instead. This would also cut costs and make scheduling easier. There would probably be some mismatches but it would also bring back some rivalries such as Poteau vs. Heavener and the Pirates vs. Spiro.

Bring in the mercy rule and it would make the mismatches not as bad.

In the playoffs, the district winner gets a home game. After that, all games are played at a neutral location. That way, two district winners wouldn’t play in the third round with one of those teams having to make a 240-mile trip like Talihina did when it played at Hennessey.

One other idea is to have a true eastern champion play the western champion. That might result in the two top teams playing each other in the semifinals, but it would reduce traveling costs.

Now, to basketball.

There is no reason more of the county schools don’t play each other. Heavener and Howe are five miles apart and do not play. Yes, there are some spirited fans among the two, but wouldn’t it be better for Heavener to play Howe instead of Whitesboro and Howe to play the Wolves instead of Battiest? I am not an expert but would predict there would be a larger crowd if Howe played at Heavener than Battiest at Howe.

Use the same districts in football with only the top two teams advancing to the playoffs. I like every team advancing to the playoffs, but there has to be some cuts. Also, the regular-season tournaments could be cut to two instead of three.

If there are enough teams, there could be classes for the schools that play football and one for those that don’t play football.

Also, make the postseason single elimination instead of double elimination. If a team loses, sorry, that’s the season. Plus the number of games in the regular season could be shortened.

For baseball, keep the same rules as in basketball except make all the district games two games of five innings instead of one seven-inning game. Top two teams make it out of the district and all post-season games single elimination.

I am sure this won’t ever happen, but it would definitely cut costs and maybe keep some schools playing sports instead of eliminating the sport.


  1. I like your suggestions, Craig. Probably won't happen, but overall you're right. Some cuts are going to have to be made. The sad thing is that some schools will eventually be closed or at least have to drop athletics, thus forcing consolidation of athletic programs. That happens at some of the schools in the NW part of Oklahoma. Schools like Yarbrough and others don't have enough kids for even 8-man football, so the ones who want to participate in athletics have to be bussed to Forgan or wherever.

  2. Sorry, can't get that Google Account to work and forgot to sign my name on that last comment. - Jim Patterson