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WIAA has struck gold with RPI format

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 11, 2017, 9:04 p.m.

I couldn’t express my thoughts about the WIAA’s RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) format in a regular news story.

But I can in this forum. I’m completely, 100 percent, totally behind it. I was being overly redundant to stress my enthusiasm.

Sure the new format that will be used to seed the state tournaments has its initial bugs. But by season’s end, the teams should shake out where they belong and the alternative – drawing names out of a hat to determine first-round state matchups – must be put out to pasture.

My lone concern is for teams which might not play in a traditionally tough league. If Team A is legitimately good but the teams it plays in league are struggling, well that could impact Team A’s RPI.

I count Lind-Ritzville/Sprague athletic director Greg Whitmore, a WIAA board member and chairman of the RPI committee, as a friend. He and his teammates did an outstanding job rolling out the RPI.

Whitmore understands the first RPI rankings weren’t close to what we’ll see with the final product. They’ll change daily and he suspects by the end of the season – when the final rankings are frozen – they’ll be on point for the most part.

So take a breath and check in every so often to see the movement in the rankings. One thing is for sure – the RPI has created conversation.

And isn’t that a good thing?

It’s time for another installment of “If I were king for a day.”

It involves club sports again. I used to think they were a necessary evil. I’m not so sure anymore.

Sure high school teams ultimately reap the fruit of an athlete’s improvement. And club sports are an attempt by an athlete to earn a college scholarship. Especially by athletes who don’t think college recruiters will see them or hear about them in high school.

So here’s my newest gripe with club sports. I strongly believe that athletes who participate in a club sport while playing in a high school sport simultaneously should not be allowed to do so.

Whether you call them club sports or AAU sports or whatever, here are the sports that occur during a high school season that can conflict with high school sports: volleyball (winter through spring), girls soccer (spring), wrestling (spring), girls basketball (spring).

Offseason football, boys basketball and baseball largely occur during the summer.

Several of my friends who are coaches are going to disagree with me.

WIAA and Idaho High School Activities executive directors Mike Colbrese and Ty Jones understand my angst. They hear the complaints about high school athletes also participating in club sports simultaneously.

“Unfortunately I think parents believe that’s the best road to scholarship heaven,” Colbrese said of club sports. “I think that’s a myth.”

Colbrese said a couple states adopted legislation that prohibited club sport participants from playing a high school sport simultaneously. But it was struck down through threats of lawsuits.

Jones said Idaho administrators have talked about athletes who participate in a club sport and a high school sport at the same time.

“It’s problematic,” Jones said. “You could have a school’s best sprinter off at a club tournament. That impacts the school teams quite a bit. While most high school coaches don’t like it, they don’t want to lose those kids either. So they put up with it.”

Jones said there’s no comparison between the experience of club and high school sports.

“The value and benefit of high school sports far outweighs what club sports can give an athlete,” Jones said.

Amen.


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