Every two years the Colorado High School activities associations (chsaa) plays a game of conference musical chairs, hoping to find a better seat than the one they previously occupied and it creates chaos! Football committees have been formed to evaluate feedback from athletic directors and coaches in hopes to assemble a better solution. However, the sad truth is conference realignment did NOT change the landscape of competitive play. Rather, it created financial burdens and a deeper resentment to the association for allowing an arduous process to occur. In addition to creating an imbalance of power it created a domino affect on the lower level programs. The fact conference games are played in the final 5 weeks of regular season and are important to Varsity squads for post season, it forced cancellations and forfeits statewide. At the beginning of the season many teams scrambled to find opponents in zero week through week 5 because of the fiasco called (RPI), a system that rewards sub par teams for playing better competition versus a standard win/loss record that allows teams to control their own destiny. So in the offseason leading up to August 2016 some teams had to take out of state games to fill out non conference schedules to complete a 10 game schedule. Others rolled the dice and got stuck with a two year cycle to play whatever team was available in state. As November 2016 ended the financial data suggested an increase in travel expenses and low attendance because the student body choose not to travel vast distances which also contributed to the demise of play at most schools, Therefor JV and Freshman teams suffered the most because many are the first to be cut in budget crisis modes as they are the lower level teams. In addition only parents attend these games and already pay lofty booster club fees so no additional more monies were available or could be raised. In essence no gate revenues are earned like Varsity and $8 admissions, so why bother funding these travel games. The travesty is many reps were lost at lower levels that will impede future Varsity squads. The level of the game gets faster and more demanding at each level. When speaking with athletic directors and conference coaches many have stated the issue or lack of competitive high school football has been building for years, RPI and waterfall just made it more apparent. That is the overall sentiment from multiple schools but others said, turning the other cheek on fluid transfers has been a major issue and improperly handled . One coach said, “Some high school football teams are more like a group of trained mercenaries.” while several have stated’ “We are in a salt and pepper neighborhood that is mostly salt!” Salt referring to an older generation without many youths feeding the high school attendance area. Participation numbers suggest 2017 will be a down year in football and is not surprising. The continued media stories on CTE and concussions is a contributor. However, the rise in college tuition has forced parents to rethink sports and buy into year around activities or club sports namely Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, Lacrosse, Track and Volleyball. Many of these sports are increasing exponentially. The fact is Colorado does not have guys from sixth grade all the way through 8th grade being developed like at a lot of places or states which is a deterrent that derails area schools success. Even worse is when they arrive to their attendance area school and they have to rely on being coached by a teacher supplementing their incomes and not like the schools that have invested in their youth programs or youth leagues that have accelerated coaching staffs. So as a handful of area schools continue to hire top notch coaches and lure athletes away from their attendance areas, they will continue to breed success at all levels and continue to instill a winning pride in the program. Meanwhile, every two years chsaa will play musical chairs and the same teams will be playoff teams, natural area rivals will die like the attendance at current area games and the state title game will be a bore as the same teams will be in it year after year. 2017 will complete the 2 year cycle and strong considerations should be made to even the playing field for 2018 and 2019.
This message will repeat Every two years until immediate actions are taken to make high school an even playing field so average teams can compete. Otherwise, the attitude of why play will exist and club sports will be the answer. Similar to sports taken out of middle schools because of for profit entities and lack of school funding.