The Structures not just the game

Coaching high school tennis is fun, I enjoy seeing the growth in kids over the three month season. Because I have a day job that's not in education, I find the entrenched ideas that folks inhabit in that world really difficult to deal with. Naturally, I come with ideas on how to fix things or developing suggestions to improve processes. 

For instance, Oregon does the counter-intuitive thing where boys & girls tennis happens at the same time. They do this because it's easier to run one state tournament than run two, despite the fact that most schools aren't going to have enough courts for the teams to practice at the same time. This isn't like basketball where you can just use a gym at alternating times, tennis courts are usually outside and things like cold/light/rain cause delays that are hard to mitigate. 

The other annoyance is the structure of the system. Teams have 12 players -- 4 singles and 4 doubles teams -- which means matches can end in ties, then you break the ties using total sets won, then games. Both are inexact methods. Lastly, the ways that teams qualify for the state tournament is extremely lazy. The state is split into classifications based on school size, then districts based on geography. Each district gets 4 allocations of playoff spots to use how they want, but every district allocates their the same way -- they send the Top 4 finishers of a single tournament to the state tournament. The state champion is determined based on points -- for each round a player advances -- a team earns. The issue here? A team with a single good player and one other one, can win a team state championship despite not playing anyone head to head.

This issue apparently has been raised for years, but there's been no action. During the COVID interregnum, I wrote a proposal to the state association in the hopes they'd enact it. It created for the first time, a state team tournament that could be tacked onto the regular season that was mostly a head-to-head format like regular season matches. For once, it would mean that regular season matches would actually count besides the "league championships" that are awarded in each district, but hold little actual value in practice. (Though, I did motivate my kids with that last year when I knew there'd be no state tournament, heh.) 

Anyway,  the state association takes public comments in theory but not in practice. There's no visibility to these things, the state association is a voluntarily non-profit but all the schools belong to it. In states where sports have coordinated coaches associations, there tends to be better results and formats, but Oregon is a large state with a relatively small population for its size. Schools outside the I-5 corridor are quite spread out, so it's very difficult to coordinate coaches and unless you have extensive tenure in the coaching business, it's hard to get anyone take you seriously.

In an era where social media can make a lot of things happen, where people like me making a living working on the web, it's very difficult to accept an existence that basically says "this is how it is and there's nothing we can do."  If tennis were a sport more people cared about besides the participants and their parents, it might be easier to get some action. But unlike football or something, the sport doesn't really move the needle for anybody.

Coaching at a top program, but a smaller school makes this even more frustration for me personally. I don't know if being somewhere bigger would get more attention to this issues I raise, but part of my motivation for participating is to improve structures and not just focused on the brass tacks of coaching the sports individually. While I enjoy it, there's a reason I didn't choose to be a full-time tennis coach; I don't even play competitively all that much these days. 
Anyway,  the state association takes public comments in theory but not in practice. There's no visibility to these things,

You say there's no visibility to this... but if you had to guess what are they taking and putting into practice? If not public comments?

Also by the end when you hint at the power of people coming together, I thought you'd make a great spearheader for that.
2022-01-25 19:49:23