E.A. Sports Today

Tourney tweaking

A couple thoughts that could change the way we look at the beloved Calhoun County tournaments

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

There’s a question before the Calhoun County principals that, depending how it is answered, could fundamentally change the way the county’s two most lucrative tournaments are operated.
The issue before administrators today is whether to hold back White Plains’ cut of the proceeds from the Calhoun County Baseball Tournament for playing a game during the tournament week. It is currently contrary to county by-laws to play such games during the baseball and basketball tournaments.
The Wildcats played at Donoho Monday – the day of the tournament semifinals at Choccolocco Park – after both teams had been eliminated from the main event. A vote to “penalize” them has been pushed back to May as administrators have received more information – most likely Jacksonville Christian playing Spring Garden the same day and baseball games being played during the tournament week in the past.
The question of playing outside games during the tournament was raised from the back of the room during the baseball seeding meeting without resolution.
The argument for prohibiting outside play during the tournament is an obvious one. It would take away from the tournament gate and, therefore, cut into the profits that all participating teams share.
But baseball and basketball are games that need to be played. A long period of idleness due to an early tournament exit can be ruinous to a team’s rhythm as, in basketball’s case, the season heads to its most important segment. And those teams have to reserve those potential tournament games to reflect the state-mandated maximum allowable contests when making their schedule.
And in baseball, where weather impacts games more than any – especially this year – there are only so many dates available to play (and then you hope they don’t get impacted by weather again ). And although the games in this issue don’t fit that bill, you have to play area games – they’re the ones that get you in the playoffs.
The solution, for both tournaments, seems a simple one. Allow teams eliminated in the early days of the tournament to play and funnel those gate receipts into the tournament take. Call it a competition tax.
The only fans likely going to those non-tournament games are the family and friends of the players in those games and they’ll be right back to the main event once those games are over, if they were heading back at all. Besides, if somebody buys a tournament ticket ahead of time, that money’s already in hand.
Since we’re making suggestions, here’s one with a chance to make everyone comfortable when it comes to seeding the tournament field.
Let’s start by saying no one wants to sit in a seeding meeting for two hours like they used to; they currently tend to take about 30 minutes. The open discussion format currently in place should foster vigorous debate among the participants defending their positions, but it usually ends up becoming a friendly consensus. Some have lobbied for favorable spots, “volunteered” for certain seeds for whatever purpose or brokered ways to avoid certain matchups.
Here’s a way to return to the secret ballot without taking up all afternoon to figure out the results, hurting anyone’s feelings in an open discussion and, as long as everyone is objective, seed and pair the field as strongly as possible.
Pick a deadline prior to the date of the seeding meeting, the closer to the first round the better. Have the coaches rank the field 1 through 15 in the privacy of their offices (there’s enough research out there to discover teams’ common opponents) and return those ballots to the principal of that year’s host school.
To maintain the integrity of the vote and preserve the drama of the big reveal, the host principal or whomever is designated to calculate the ballots are the only people to see the results. Coaches still have to attend the seeding meeting to collect their tournament packets at which time the seeds and the pairings will be disclosed.
Just a couple thoughts for a Sunday.

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