BRANDON SPECK: Wrapping up thoughts from The Big House

By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal

After three straight years of having one or both Aberdeen basketball teams in Jackson for the state basketball tournament, it felt somewhat strange for neither to be there this time around.
I was there only for a few games, but none of them were to watch the Bulldogs or Lady Bulldogs.
Corinth wasn’t there either.
The similarity between the Warriors and Bulldogs?
Both lost in the semifinals of the Class 3A North State tournament in Holly Springs.
Before this season’s rule change by the Mississippi High School Activities Association, the two teams would have played on the final night of the North tournament for third place, a game that would have sent one of the teams to Jackson as a third seed.
But with the new format, only two teams from each North classification earned a bid.
Do I see the positives of the rule change? Yes. Every team must be playing their best ball every night without slip-up. That’s as positive as I can get about it.
We get that and that’s all fine and dandy, but what if the two best teams in a class face each other in the North semis instead of the finals. One of those teams is going home. Not saying that was even the case here, but here is the case.
One MHSAA representative told me on Thursday that the reason for the larger crowds at the Big House this season was the new format.
I don’t necessarily buy that, and frankly, it doesn’t matter.
Or does it. You see, bigger crowds equal more more money. According to the MHSAA, it’s all about the kids.
But if it were truly all about the athletes, wouldn’t we still be sending the top three instead of the top two only?
I understand that times are tough for districts throughout the state. Who doesn’t? And maybe budget reasons truly played a role in narrowing the field. But in the end, is taking away one of the top experiences of a high school athlete’s life worth the cost?
I say no, but I don’t get a vote, obviously.
Hey, maybe it’s about the sport. There were quite a few 3-8 football teams to make the playoffs this season. Traveling across the state for first round games didn’t seem to be a problem there. That’s a different story for a different day though.
In the meantime, while certain folk are basking in bills this week, please don’t try and convince us that it’s all about the athletes. It ain’t.