Certain things in sports are outdated, however because we like the feel of tradition we keep them around.
I am a fan of tradition; however I am not a fan of specious thought.
We all applauded football governing bodies for taking advantage of technology and instituting instant replay.
We love the idea of the coming college football playoff.
We were also fans of the NCAA’s expansion of the college basketball tournament field to 48 and eventually 64 (The most recent expansion we will save for another day).
We loved when baseball gave us interleague play.
What is next on the list? What would make this sports fan’s day complete?
The elimination of conference affiliation in football.
Conference affiliation is terrible for high school and college football alike. It makes our schedules boring and redundant, while losing much craved for competitive balance.
By ridding ourselves of conferences, we would be left with fresh schedules and exciting match-ups each season, while still allowing the possibility of rivalry games to continue and flourish.
To understand the reason for the problem we must first understand why conferences were created.
The affiliation of conferences began in the 1920s as a means to schedule games. For some teams it was difficult to find opponents so by joining a conference they gave themselves an easy avenue to fill their schedule. Keep in mind football was still in its infancy. Although the general public had been throwing the pigskin around for decades, many schools did not offer it for student-athlete competition.
So conferences were constructed.
Teams of close geographical distance got together, regardless of size, and coaches as well as athletic directors, rejoiced knowing their schedules were set.
Fast forward to present time.
We have record numbers of participation in sports across the board. This year between FBS and FCS 337 schools will play Division-1 football. The high school numbers are even more staggering. Including 8-man football, 16,047 teams will compete on the gridiron during this upcoming season; 360 of which come from Missouri.
We have outgrown the problem of participation and geographic constraints. Furthermore, those conferences are outdated.
Because we love our tradition so much we have ignored the fact that our conferences have left some schools at a competitive disadvantage.
Redundancy- Superfluous repetition; an act or instance of needs repetition.
Even its definition is repetitive.
We all dislike like the monotony of a typical day, that’s why we watch sports. We know that the only guarantee is that we don’t know what will happen. We never know when we will see an amazing catch, a huge hit, or an upset. That is the beauty of football.
Why can't we let schedules reflect this?
Too many times we get games at both levels (high school and college) that we have seen before.
Every year conference teams square off in games state and nationwide to decide a conference champion, only to have these same teams matched-up again when it really matters, the postseason.
Let’s skip the prelude and save the drama for the game that really matters.
Imagine going into a season with a Casville vs. Webb City matchup. Or seeing Hillcrest and Ozark on a Friday night in September?
I am a graduate of Carl Junction High School, so naturally I love my Big 8 football, but I don’t like the scheduling.
Year in and year out Aurora, Cassville, Seneca, Monett are typically in the same district, as are Mount Vernon, East Newton, and Lamar. In the past these teams have regularly met in the regular season and post season. Under the new format the possibility of this happening is even greater.
Should these teams really have to game plan and prepare to play each other twice when it is avoidable?
These teams could easily fill their schedule with area teams that are not in the district, but still of similar caliber, protecting the integrity of postseason play. It is extremely difficult to beat a good team twice.
Not to mention, we are running into another problem with conference affiliations.
They are becoming outdated.
Carl Junction is easily bigger than every school in the Big 8, in some cases by hundreds of students. Ideally, they should always win conference championships simply from a numbers standpoint. More chances to get quality athletes and better depth.
Carl Junction isn’t the only example.
Joplin is easily the biggest school in the Ozark Conference. In fact they are the 12th biggest school in the state. Playing a conference slate full of Class 4 and Class 5 teams is not proper preparation for the likes of Blue Springs South and Rockhurst. They haven’t competed for a football state championship since the 1980s when they had two high schools (also saved for another day).
Is a conference championship really that valuable?
Can you name every major college football conference champion from last year?
But I’m sure you could tell me that Alabama, who didn’t win their conference title, was the national champion.
I love the drama of a great conference championship race, but not at the expense of a bigger championship.
Let’s free up our schools from the constraints of conference ties. Let our schedules breathe and enjoy some individuality. Give a fresh face to our postseason match-ups all the while maintaining our traditional rivalries.
If Joplin & CJ were actually winning against smaller competition and getting blow out in the state playoffs those examples might actually make sense. A much better example is Miller. They have only lost 3 conference games since 2007, yet have never made it past the quarterfinal round in the period. That being said I like conferences. Its a sense of community knowing you'll be playing the same kids in FB,BB, baseball and track. The reality is most teams won't be in the playoffs. If your conference is such a hindurence then leave it and let everyone else be.
Bolivar is the Best example of this. They play down while playing in conference but can't hold a candle to the teams they should be playing all year.
Conference Affiliation Outdated
I do not have a problem with a conference, but limit the number of teams to 8-10. I played for Republic back when the COC was an eight team conference. We could still have a few out of conference games a season against some other competition and still compete against all the other schools in the COC. Now, there are 16 teams in the COC. It had turned into two seperate conferences, one "Big" school conference, and onel "Small" school conference. There are teams in a school's conference that some kids will never compete against in a particular sport their entire jr high and high school careers. I just find it silly that they all are supposedly in the same conference.
Thanks for that Jordan! This is something that I have thought for a very long time. Changes do need to be made. The only people that will disagree are those that are "benefiting" from playing a weaker schedule due to the conference they play in. I remember a time when Carl Junction was winning Conference Championships in basketball year in and year out, only to be ousted by Webb City. Who cares if you are Conference Champs if you can win a state championship, or even a district championship. Just my opinion. Thanks for the article!
Yes and No
Here in Thayer we play all but 1 conference game against larger schools does it make it hard to win you bet. But it allows us to be better in districts IF you don't get caught up in loosing games .It is hard to keep Fans and students fired up when loosing games .Would it be nice tp play more class 1 teams you bet. Is it possible probably not we have trouble getting the funding for Helmets pads and uniforms I doubt a 2 to 3 hr drive would be possible .
Not at all
I am a Monett football player. And I love Big 8 conference football. Also with Monett vs. Aurora being the 2nd longest continual game in the state of Missouri at over 80 years of player continually i wouldnt give up this conference for anything. It my beredundant but it wouldnt be Monett football without playing Cassville, Aurora, Mt. Vernon, Carl Junction, East Newton, Lamar and Senaca.
We could solve this problem by looking to our neighbor to the south. Arkansas aligns their conferences by size.