Can there be anything else going on during the fall?

We’ve got high school teams competing in football, volleyball, softball, boys soccer, girls golf, cross country and boys swimming. Right now, we also have men’s soccer and women’s volleyball taking place at East Central College as well.

And that doesn’t even scratch the surface for nonschool events.

Not only do we have volume, but everything seems to be crammed into a short amount of time. Believe it or not, we’re just a few weeks away from district girls golf tournaments, about a month away from district softball and about six weeks away from district volleyball.

And, with September just starting, we’re a third of the way through the high school football season. Many states were just starting the season this week.

Why the rush?

For starters, this year’s high school practices started July 31. Honestly, that’s way too early for the high schools to open practices. Let the kids have some summer. Really, they don’t get much of a break right now. Between camps, open gyms or fields, weight room work and summer school, the offseason is just another chance for coaches to train their athletes. In many places, it’s really hurt the traditional summer sports from being able to get players. Many teams play shorthanded during the summer as their athletes are working on high school camps.

One thing that would help would be pushing back the start of fall sports practices by a week. For a local reference, this would put the opening the Monday after the Washington Town and Country Fair.

I know there are weather considerations for outdoor sports championships, especially girls golf and softball. Both are more dependent on field conditions to be able to finish out the season and wet, cold weather isn’t optimal for either. Could there be a way to extend them another week or so to give the athletes more than the compressed month or so of the season they currently get?

The other big area of concern is football. I know there’s an argument against pushing the start of practices back because it might push the state championship games into December. With the venues MSHSAA has rented for past football championships, having the title games on Thanksgiving Weekend, when you would have more fans able to attend the games, always was ideal (even if it infringed with the start of the basketball and wrestling seasons).

This used to not be a problem in the past with the four-team district system, playoff games on Wednesdays and Mondays and compressed weeks. There’s one more game in the playoffs now than there used to be.

There could be solutions. For starters, remove the jamborees. The scrimmages at the end of the second week of practices realistically are games without scores being kept. That would save a week in the season.

Another solution would be to start the playoffs a week earlier. Make the first playoff games happen in Week 9. For most schools, this would mean removing a nonconference game. It also would make scheduling a little easier as it would cut out a game per season.

Another possibility would be to cut down the playoffs. Right now, every team makes the bracket. If you cut the playoffs down to only the top four teams in each district, you make the regular season games even more important. They’re used for seeding purposes right now. Give the other four teams in each district a final consolation game to end the season. Again, it’s not optimal, but it would help to bring the current format back in line with the past as far as timing goes.

Nobody ever will be happy with a football playoff system. I’ve been around long enough to know that. There has to be something to bring things back into line though.


Remember the furor over Stan Kroenke’s moving the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles?

That’s looking like a minor debate in comparison to another one of Silent Stan’s sports ventures.

Fans of Arsenal, the North London-based soccer franchise, are just about in open revolt after the club’s recent form and inactivity in the transfer market.

The summer window just closed Thursday night and Arsenal failed to strengthen its squad, which lost the previous Saturday to Liverpool, 4-0, and failed to handle the situation where three of its biggest players will be out of contract at the end of the season.

The Gunners did move one, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for £40 million, to the same Liverpool squad.

Arsenal did spend £46.5 million (all on one player, Alexandre Lacazette) during the window, but that paled in comparison to their rivals. The team actually made a £17 million profit (according to The Telegraph) when you add Oxlade-Chamberlain, the £7 million sale of Kieran Gibbs to West Bromwich Albion, the £10.4 million sale of Wojciech Szezesny to Juventus and a few other deals.

Arsenal didn’t make the UEFA Champions League last season and finishing in the top four seems to be just a dream through three matches this season.

Failure to spend money, failure to invest in star players already on the books and failure to address a seeming lack of leadership will seem very familiar to St. Louis Rams fans. Just put Arsene Wenger into the Jeff Fisher role and there’s only one thing that makes sense.

Stan wants to move Arsenal to Los Angeles, too!