Poor attendance could mean the demise of consolation games at some high-school state basketball tournaments, possibly as early as next season, according to Mike Colbrese.
Colbrese, the executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, said the WIAA Executive Board will discuss possible changes to the tournament formats at next Thursday’s monthly meeting.
“One of their goals has been state-tournament formats, to review those, particularly in basketball,” Colbrese said Thursday via phone from Indianapolis, where he is attending a National Federation State High School Association conference. “It falls on the heels of state tournaments in basketball and seeing what you’ve seen for quite a while, that we’re just not seeing attendance at the consolation bracket.”
Colbrese said he didn’t have attendance figures for the consolation games on hand, but said they are available and added, “We’ve taken a few pictures of the crowd, and we don’t need a wide-angle lens.”
He said Washington is the only state in the country with a 16-team, modified double-elimination tournament, which covers four days.
“Is our academic mission of some of our schools being fortified, or is there a better way to run a state tournament and still get a fanfare and make people feel good about the product that we have,” Colbrese said.
He said attendance figures would be used “to determine what might be a better format if there is a more intriguing format.”
But Colbrese said he didn’t know what format that might be. A regional concept, which was used back in the mid-1970s and ’80s, has been discussed the past couple of years, he said, along with the possibility of bring fewer teams to state and/or single-elimination.
Potentially, changes could come as early as the 2011 tournaments, “but it’s way too early” to know, according to Colbrese
“I have no idea what to anticipate,” he said.
The Executive Board, comprised of 13 members, is not expected to address changes to the 16-team softball and volleyball tournaments, Colbrese said, because they are not four-day events like basketball, where teams play only one game per day.
“It’s not really anything more than a basketball issue at this point,” he said.
Changes in basketball might not be made in all classifications either.
“It might be only a 3A/4A issue or a 3A/4A, 1A/2A issue,” Colbrese said, noting that the Class B tournaments generally have better attendance throughout.
Colbrese said coaches generally oppose single-elimination tournaments, “because they think there is a valuable experience about playing two games at the state tournament, particularly if they have a younger squad, and fans love tradition, love to keep that 16-team tradition, and you get some people who say, ‘You know, we’re going to be at the state tournament anyway, why would we travel over there to just play one game or fewer days?'”
The Executive Board has a number of agenda items and likely will meet well into the evening, according to Colbrese. He plans to discuss any action at the Representative Assembly meeting the following day, April 23.
Other items of interest on the Board agenda are possible changes in sites for the first round of state football and soccer games as well as draw criteria, and possible sites for the 4A/3A/2A 2010 state volleyball tournaments. Colbrese said the 1A/2B/1B tournaments will be in Yakima again this fall, but that the Board will be looking at both Kennewick and Everett for the other three.