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Creative scheduling solutions
Huntington finds unusual solution to scheduling problem
December 06, 2012
Even under the best of circumstances, scheduling high school athletic contests can be difficult.
Traditionally, Class 1A schools schedule boys and girls contests for the same night. Games often include a regular contest plus an extra quarter or half game so that players who would normally be on a JV roster get an opportunity to play.
However, what can a school do when they don’t have enough players to field a team?
Class 1A schools have used several different strategies when a shortage of players makes fielding a team difficult. The most common solution is to form a co-op where two schools field one team between them. That is the solution that Mitchell and Spray have used for several years now in football. Several other teams in the High Desert League, which Mitchell competes in, do the same thing.
This season, Huntington has come up with a more interesting solution.
Ever since the passage of Title IX in the 1970s, it has been long-standing policy that if a girls team is unavailable, girls will be allowed to play on boys teams.
I first ran into this situation while coaching in Spray in 1979-1980. The school initially had just four girls try out for the basketball team. Although Title IX required the girls to have the opportunity to play, the law was still new and the Spray School Board did not want girls competing against boys. Somehow one of the board members convinced an additional girl to come out for basketball and we fielded a team with just five girls. It was a strange year. We would fall behind early in games and then the girl that didn’t want to play would foul out and our team would improve. Playing four on five, we would make late runs in games, but most of the time it was too late.
Since then, legal challenges have guaranteed that the girls always get an opportunity.
Consequently, this year, Huntington is fielding a JV boys basketball team consisting of four girls and a freshman boy. However, that doesn’t solve all the scheduling problems —– and that is where Huntington has come up with an interesting solution.
This past weekend, they competed in the Huntington Invitational Basketball Tournament. The tournament had both boys and girls brackets. It is illegal for boys teams to play against girls teams, but the Huntington JV boys team played in the girls bracket at the tournament.
So how was the problem resolved?
When Mitchell was scheduled to play Huntington on Saturday, they suited a boy with their usual girls team and played the game as a JV boys contest. In the game, Mitchell’s seven girls played against Huntington’s four girls and one boy. The contest was close throughout with Mitchell finally taking a 35-33 victory.
So why go to all the trouble to play a contest that officially doesn’t count?
From Huntington’s standpoint, this is a no-brainer. Playing games allows their girls to gain valuable experience in case they can field a girls team next season. It also hopefully ensures that the school is in compliance with Title IX, which is intended to provide equal athletic opportunities for women.
Playing the contest also makes sense for Mitchell. Without agreeing to play the game, the Loggers would have been unable to fill out their schedule. Mitchell frequently has foreign exchange students on their team that have no previous basketball experience and they need all the playing opportunities that they can get.
Following the conclusion of this weekend’s games, Mitchell coach Tim Foster said, “We have ‘kind of’ played two games, but I’m not sure the second game is worth writing about.”
He may be right. The game is inconsequential, but giving girls the opportunity to play is not. Although it may have made for a strange contest and left outsiders scratching their heads, everyone got to play. And when all is said and done, that’s what it’s all about is opportunity.