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Changing your name doesn’t change your status
by Dan Eckles - Commentary
Jul 02, 2011 | 719 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Almost two weeks ago, the NIAA’s Board of Control approved a plan that splits Clark County’s high schools into a Division I and Division II format. Division I will have the largest and most successful programs while Division II will feature schools trying to rebuild their athletic programs and smaller schools.

The move does leave Northern 4A and 3A schools with decisions to make about who they will play when state tournament time comes up.

The South moves are all fine and dandy. They are changes to help competitive balance but my questions is why create a 4A Division II? Why not just call them 3A schools? We already have a 3A. Why create a new classification?

The answer is simple. Some administrators and coaches in southern Nevada think by calling themselves 4A Division II, there is no stigma attached about being a 3A school.

Here’s a reality check fellas, if you’re not competing at the highest level, you are still a second-tier school, no matter what you’re called. If you’re not playing the top 4As anymore and now you’re playing the 3As, you’re a 3A school. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sparks high athletic director Rob Kittrell stopped short of calling the name change a joke, but he pointed out his disgust with the game-playing.

“It’s just a number. What ever you call yourself doesn’t really matter,” said Kittrell.

He’s right on. Nevada will soon have a 4A, D-I and D-II, a 2A and 1A. You can bet there will be outsiders wondering what happened to the 3A. We’ll just have to tell them it’s really 4A D-II.

It’s expected the nine Northern 3A schools will become part of a new 4A D-II. Kittrell knows all about changing classifications and how it can be beneficial for a school. Sparks was a long-time 4A member but moved to the 3A ranks for the 2004-05 school year. SHS programs have experienced much more success in the past seven years than they ever did in the large-school ranks.

Sparks is not alone. Fallon, Elko and South Tahoe all had successful first years in the 3A during the recently completed school year. The trio had been 4A members for years prior to 2010-11.

You can bet Basic, Rancho, Valley and the other schools who become 4A D-II, will experience much more success after the changes are implemented in 2012-13. And there won’t be any disgrace in it. Those athletes who have struggled against what will be 4A D-1 will be jumping for joy after postseason wins in 4A D-II. And they won’t care what classification they play in.

The kids who win D-II state trophies will be just as proud as those who win D-I state trophies. And they would have been just as proud if the trophy said 3A.

Whenever there is change, it’s going to ruffle some feathers. More than two thirds of the state’s population resides in Clark County. There’s strength in numbers. So when Clark County makes changes, there’s a trickle down effect for the rest of the state.

I get it but I understand the frustration of many that comes with that.

“The frustrating thing is the South gets to dictate what the rest of the state does,” said Bill Ballinger, the boys basketball coach at Bishop Manogue High School in Reno. They have the power and they utilize as long as they have it.”

The strength in numbers ideology probably won’t ever change, but that doesn’t mean those of us in northern Nevada have to like it. We can laugh at the small-minded few who think calling themselves 4A D-II means they’re really in the best classification. What’s that old adage, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck ...

Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor. He can be reached via email at:
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