Editorial: Playing ball in the new conference Op-Ed · August 30, 2013
A bit more than a year ago the Iowa Department of Education ignored a good recommendation from a mediation team on how to shuffle schools about so everybody had a conference in which they could compete without adding unnecessary drive times.
Instead, the IDOE chose the quick and easy path for themselves, leaving West Branch and 12 other teams in a two-division “superconference” that requires significantly more driving and a ridiculously complicated question of how to conduct playoffs. The result is the River Valley Conference.
A year later, the schools’ athletic directors and other representatives have tried to sort out the mess and have done a pretty good job considering what they had been given. West Branch, West Liberty, Regina, Tipton, Wilton, Durant and Mid-Prairie will make up the Southern Division and North Cedar, Northeast-Goose Lake, Camanche, Cascade, Bellevue and Monticello will make up the Northern Division. Each team in each division will play each other twice and then play each team in the opposite division once.
The schedules are still being worked out, but that gives the Southern Division six faraway games per season and the Northern Division seven.
Understand that the conference committee has worked out some overlaps to shorten some of these drive-times, which could reach from 70 to 110 minutes. Some of the schools will host two games in one night, giving two faraway teams access to their court or field. Neither team will have the home-court advantage.
As a side note, the new superconference led to West Branch and other ex-CVC schools to now charge for admission at middle school or junior high events, which they had not done before. This practice was done by a majority of the other superconference teams, and it was necessary to keep the practice uniform. The $3 fee West Branch is implementing for adult fans is a fair, nominal request to help pay for officials, though it may cause a decline in attendance.
This is what we have and we will have to live with it for now. Hopefully this first year will teach us some lessons or give us some ideas to help the conference committee find ways to optimize more.
Until then, we will buckle down and do our best to adjust.