I have used the last four Sunday editions of Northwest Arkansas Newspapers to break down the proposals that school administrators will vote on during the Arkansas Activities Association’s annual meeting with the governing body this year.
That meeting takes place at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.
Now on the eve of this meeting, here’s what I see about to take shape in our capital city:
Proposal No. 1 — Volleyball Events Defined
I don’t see any reason why this shouldn’t pass, and by an overwhelming margin.
It simply gives the director of any regular-season volleyball tournament the opportunity to make last-minute decisions in order to let every team get in the maximum number of sets allowed during pool play. It’s all about leveling the pool play field and making seeding fair during the tournament round.
Proposal No. 2 — Football Playoff Administration
This is the one proposal I didn’t touch on during my Sunday stories.
The purpose of this proposal is as follows:
“Now that each finals game has a separate paid attendance pool, participating schools should receive finals money based on finals attendance, rather than preliminary rounds gate receipts.
This would encourage schools to promote/sell tickets for the finals games. After expenses the AAA would simply allocate pro‐rata shares to the schools participating in a 20% to AAA and
40% to member schools for walk‐up ticket sales and a 20% to AAA and 80% to participating school for pre‐sale tickets. This would encourage participating schools to promote/sell tickets
for finals games.”
This one, in all likelihood, will also pass by a large margin.
Proposal No. 3 — Football Practice
This is where the fun will begin. This is the proposal that puts limits on full-contact football practices, effective immediately.
If passed, teams won’t be allowed to have full-contact practices during the preseason after Day 5, and teams will be limited to three days of full contact. The games on Friday night will count as one of those days, as will junior varsity games.
As many coaches stated in my third story, this won’t affect a team’s top players because they don’t play in junior varsity games. It will hurt those who play on Monday nights and fill their respective roles on Friday games because they will only have one practice with the varsity team.
It’s not going to hurt those larger schools that can field separate teams, but those in smaller classes who depend on players in both games. The numbers game will catch up on them, and as a result, the number of junior varsity games will dwindle.
If school administrators are in tune with the coaches of these schools and how they feel about this proposal, then I don’t see this one passing. There are enough smaller schools to keep this one from getting a majority vote on this one.
Proposal No. 4 — Conferences For Regular Season Play
My gut feelings on this one say it’s too close to call.
This one calls for the blended classes and the formation of “districts” from schools of two different classes in basketball, baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball. It also calls for Class 7A and 6A to be split during football season, with no more mixed conferences there.
If passed, it will take place during the 2016-18 reclassification cycle.
I could see 7A and 6A schools voting for the measure, and I see 5A schools being against it because of those schools being forced to play bigger schools. Those two groups almost cancel each other out, so the key will be how those in Class 4A and below feel about the measure and how they will vote.
Proposal No. 5 — First Football Game Date
This is the proposal that has members of the Arkansas Football Coaches Association up in arms, and many of them have used Twitter the past few days to express their displeasure over it.
If it passes, the football season will begin one week earlier, beginning with the 2016 season. That means instead of a team’s first game being played on the week of Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 that year, it would be played Aug. 22-26.
Coaches don’t like the idea of an additional game in hot weather, especially when heat-related matters and prevention of these matters have become serious topics over the past few years. It will be hot in August, and even hotter when it comes to games that are played on artificial surfaces.
It would also mean the championship games for Classes 5A through 7A will be played on Thanksgiving weekend and go against one of college football’s biggest rivalry weeks. That includes Arkansas vs. Missouri, which will start play this season, and the holiday will also deter fans from attending the game.
Here’s also food for thought on this matter. Since Arkansas has told its Central Arkansas fans the Razorbacks will now play one good SEC game in Little Rock each season, let’s say the Razorbacks chose the Missouri game.
The reason: It moves the game farther away from the Mizzou fan base than Fayetteville does, and Arkansas knows it can fill War Memorial Stadium for a game like that. What do you think the War Memorial Stadium administration will want more — Hogs vs. Tigers in front of a capacity crowd, or three state championship games that won’t draw more than 30,000 combined?
So if that’s the case, where will the state championships be played?
Unlike the other proposals, this one needs a two-thirds majority vote because it goes into the AAA handbook as part of the constitution and not a bylaw.
I don’t think it will matter. This proposal, which will be voted on by all football-playing schools, may not get one-third of the vote for it.