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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lee: GSL should consider divisions

The Greater Spokane League should have separate 4A and 3A divisions.

That is going to taste like sour milk to GSL principals, the power brokers of the conference.

My guess is the majority of head coaches in most sports, though, will support the notion.It makes sense with Rogers dropping to 3A next year, giving the league an even split – five 4A schools, five 3A schools.

The GSL has what a lot of leagues across the state desire. It’s a league in which the longest road trip is about 15 minutes. Travel costs are as minimal as possible. So is loss of class time.

In boys and girls basketball and football, the league produces teams battle tested for state tournaments each year.

Is that what the league’s chief function should be? Preparing teams for postseason play? Perhaps, but not at the expense of the teams, mostly 3A, finishing in the lower half of league in many sports.

In 2010-11, 4A schools won 13 of the 19 league titles. The year before, 4A schools won 13.5 (when shared between 4A and 3A schools I gave a half to each). In 2008-09, 4A schools had a 15-4 advantage. Go back further and the numbers are just as lopsided.In football, some schools get tired of shaking hands with opponents following games in which they lose 50-0 or worse and hearing opposing coaches congratulate them on playing hard.Two divisions, with a league champion in each, could help change that.In football, the 4A schools would have four games count toward postseason berths and the 3A schools would have the same. Now all the schools could fill out the remaining five spots on the schedules with crossover games or nonleague games around the region. I know of at least four schools in North Idaho starving for games and several GSL coaches desire to play Inland Empire League teams.

To limit travel costs, schools couldn’t schedule more than one game outside the Inland Northwest. In other words, just one road game could be arranged with a Columbia Basin Big Nine school.

In basketball, the schools could play each team in their division twice for eight games that decide district berths. That leaves 12 open dates. Again, those dates could be filled in a variety of ways, including nonleague games with IEL schools, crossovers in the GSL or other games outside the region. A limit on travel could be imposed.

In volleyball, boys and girls soccer and wrestling GSL teams presently play each other once. That could still happen in a two-division concept. Wrestling and volleyball teams attend some tournaments, too.

Two divisions within one league could work. A committee of coaches from all sports should be formed to at least talk about the idea. That information could be passed along to administrators for their consideration.

Some might argue that if something doesn’t appear broken, then it doesn’t need fixing. However, the question should be asked, are all schools benefiting? In the current system, I believe some schools will never be competitive enough to have respectable league seasons, let alone challenge for state berths.

To GSL coaches, athletic directors, principals and fans, I welcome your thoughts on the matter. Add to the discussion, even if you think I am all wet.