Shifting the Lines
The people's championship
The jewel of North Dakota high school Basketball
Those are a couple phrases that have been used to describe the class B boys Basketball tournament. It makes sense, considering that the eight section champions represent the smaller communities on the prairie. Each town is so small in fact, that the majority of each community will show up for their team's games.
As cool as that is, especially considering that I come from a similar size of school, I'm more interested in something else tonight.
of change that would make tournament Basketball in North Dakota even better.
The current delineation number is 325. Everything above that is class A, everything below is Class B. Having under 325 students in a school is a small operation but one that only has 326 isn't big by any stretch of the imagination.
Now I know that there are still plenty of small towns on the prairies but as those towns' populations diminish, there is an increase in the number of schools that share the responsibility for fielding teams with one another, also known as co-ops.
Of the eight teams competing for the championship this year, two such fit that billing. Of the eight that came out on the losing end of their section tournaments, another two fit the description. Four of 16 hardly makes a trend but that's a quarter share of the representatives so it isn't a size that should be ignored either.
But back to my idea
It is to shift the lines that divide the classes. I've heard of a class C existing in the past and the powers that be could reanimate it for the purposes of structure and clarity. I would rather go with a B, A, AA breakdown, similar to the way it's done for Football. Either way, a three tiered breakdown of the Basketball organization.
The first change that I would make is the number that divides. Reduce it from 325 to 250 for class B. Class AA would be no smaller than 700 students enrolled while all the school in between would populate class A. I would also include a clause that says that if co-opting schools have a total enrollment surpassing 250 they would be bumped up, even if none of the individual highs had that many students. I think that would create a competitive balance while preserving the things that make the current class B so special to people.
Speaking of that, the current class B would remain with eight regions for the sake of bracketing but shrink them down to 8 teams each. All the teams that would get moved into the new class A would join a four region breakdown where the top two teams from each would qualify for state. AA would change in name but not much else. Bismarck, Minot, Fargo, West Fargo & Grand Forks would be the majority of the towns represented which would make for nasty travel if they put into one state wide bracket. On the other hand, I'm not sure Jamestown, Valley City, Dickinson, etc. have year to year enrollments that would keep them above 700 students. So that complicates matters. It's just a nice round number. The people who get paid to make those decisions would have all the data & could make the most educated decision. That would be the one thing that would need to be determined for the large class division.
There would also be the need for special consideration for the smaller schools, as to whether they could support the divisions. I think they could. Even with the dwindling number of the towns across North Dakota, there are more than enough co-ops and individual small schools in operation this year for it to work.
There's always resistance as new ideas are proposed but I think for the students and for the future of the states prep play, it would make things more organized and allow for those from the smallest schools to get a better chance to cut down the nets! As one who enjoys the purity of the high school level of competition, I'm all for giving more students a chance to achieve that dream. So I say that the lines should be shifted and what's already good will get even better!
But I do know that reclassification is not even a new idea. It's just been given new attention thanks to the efforts of a few school employees. So this is one possible way it could go but I'm sure there are tweaks that could be made to make it palatable to as many people as possible - because it's not possible to please everyone. Ever. But trying to make it the best possible arrange just makes too much sense.