A straw vote at the annual meeting of the North Dakota High School Activities Associa-tion (NDHSAA) District Chairs Committee passed by a 14-2 margin to have the NDHSAA Board of Di-rectors look into a 3-class system for basketball. No specific plan was pre-sented but the board of directors will be looking into the merits of a 3-class system in the future.
I think this is a no-brainer, and three class-es should be approved. There are currently 21 Class A schools and 109 Class B schools. Keep the present number of Class A schools, although Watford City may have to eventually move to Class A. Of the remain-ing schools make four regions, each with eight teams from the highest enrollments.
This would be the new Class B and would include the bigger private schools such as Shiloh, Dickinson Trinity, Our Redeemers, etc. The remaining teams would be Class C, roughly 77, although I would rename the classes AAA, AA and A. Mike McFeely of the Fo-rum News Service recent-ly did an article sarcasti-cally berating the idea. From his commentary headline, “Here comes another three-class pro-posal” to his (in my opin-ion) misguided justifica-tions.
He indicates that in states that have expanded their basketball tourna-ment, like Minnesota and South Dakota, statewide enthusiasm had taken a hit. I talked to my nephew who coaches in Minneso-ta and he doesn’t buy that theory. Years ago Minne-sota only had one division and now they have four.
Does he think it is com-petitive to have a town like Edgerton—98 kids in the top four grades—take on the likes of Apple Val-ley with 1494 kids in the top four grades? I lived in Rapid City S.D. from 2004-2012 and followed the high school sports scene and did not feel there is any lack of en-thusiasm with their three divisions.
They currently have 17 teams in AA, 55 in A and 85 in B. He also states; “Here’s a fact, the smallest schools wanting to split into three classes are going to have a difficult time making the state tournament no mat-ter what, because they are the smallest schools. They’ll always be that, no matter if they compete in Class B or a new Class C.” No Mr. McFeely, the fact is the schools compet-ing within or close to their enrollment size will al-ways have the chance.
But unlike the private schools in the big cities who can reach out to a larger pool of players, small public schools only have what their small town has for students. Look at Dickin-son Trinity, have you ever seen them with a down year? They are always consistently good year after year.
Small public school sports teams run in cycles, 3-4 years com-petitive and then maybe 3-4 years with losing re-cords. As Watford City Athlet-ic Director Randy Cran-ston states in the article; “It would give more kids an opportunity to play in the state tournament, and I think that, the opportu-nity, is what high school sports is all about.”