Ditch The High School Sites, Raise The Bar For Our State Championships And Our Athletes

When we think of state championships, it is the place to gather and have the ultimate experience as both an athlete and a spectator. Being from the Midwest, I can tell you firsthand that state championships are a prideful point of the season and bring out all the stops of pizazz, pageantry, and luxury. For volleyball in Illinois, the festivities take place at Illinois State University. Indiana takes them to Worthen Arena at Ball State University, Ohio does it at Wright State University, Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, etc. The point is that high school sites aren’t the final sites, and while each of these states has a different tournament format, they all ultimately end at a site that actually feels like a state championship site. Oregon not only doesn’t do this. but the arrangements can be best described as mediocre at its very finest. At its lowest point, it was disastrous and failed to meet any level of expectation that comes with a state championship.

In all fairness, the OSAA actually treats media decently at the state championships, and I have no complaints about arrangements in most circumstances. It isn’t the most ideal arrangement, but certainly fine given what they have to work with. Plus, they get brownie points for actually trying to give us a workspace away from spectators. I’m more concerned with the experience of the athlete and spectator, both of which seem to be put on the back burner. Why are we placing these state championships at high school sites that aren’t equipped to handle such large demands? At Springfield, locker room doors were left unlocked, and concessions were closed before the state championships even started. At Redmond, the lack of state championship broadcasting was disastrous. But a bigger question is: Why aren’t we giving them an experience that is worthy of how their seasons have done to that point? Don’t these student-athletes deserve better?

Unlike the Pac-12, the Big Ten schedule is very erratic and can see a team go from a game at Nebraska on a Wednesday to hosting a game at Penn State or Maryland on Saturday. This makes putting state championships at Big Ten sites a major challenge and a non-starter. Instead, they use other D-1, D-2, etc., universities that not only can handle the demand, but still provide an experience for the athletes and spectators. Plus, we already do it in other Oregon sports: Hillsboro Stadium hosts 6A/5A soccer, Oregon State, University of Portland, and the Pendleton Convention Center host hoops, Jane Sanders Stadium and Volcanoes Stadium have softball and baseball, etc., like this isn’t an unprecedented situation for us to find ourselves in. Yet, we shove volleyball at high school sites and pretend that it is all normal. Any state championship put at a high school site simply isn’t acceptable, and yes, I’m looking at Marshfield, Baker, Liberty, and the others that host in other sports. Nothing personal, it is a heightened bar of expectation.

When the OSAA is scheduling this in the summer or late spring, it is easy to communicate with collegiate sites and find out their schedules for when their facilities will be in use. If there is a conflict, move on to the next one, and so on until you can make it fit. If the original arrangement won’t work, start moving dates or combining options: Most Midwest states start on Thursday or Friday at Noon and have three classifications at the site. Further, they split their state championship weekends so that each group can have it to themselves, as opposed to all of them competing for state in the same weekend (Ex. 1A, 2A, 3A in one, then 4A, 5A, 6A the next). Put the state quarterfinals at the higher seed sites, then take the Final Four the weekend after to a collegiate site, the entire Elite Eight doesn’t need to happen at one site. Plus, it would eliminate the double court play and 8 AM start times that we currently have, which have no place at a state tournament.

In short, while no state executes every championship event perfectly, Oregon lags behind other states that have great championship events for their student-athletes. It ultimately begins when the OSAA starts to take it seriously and really unlock the potential that they can achieve with the resources we have here. We have many suitable options for state championships and facility qualities that supersede that of your typical high school, allowing a unique, unforgettable experience for student-athletes who ultimately deserve it. These sites have infrastructure already in place that can accommodate almost anything, but it is a step above what majority of our schools can currently do right now. Take the extra step and make every state championship experience an unforgettable one, not just certain ones.

1 Comment

  1. After watching the 2A Volleyball State championship over the broadcast, I was very disappointed that these players had to play on a split court for the championships. I completely agree OSAA needs to do better! When I played in the Volleyball State Championship tournament in 2003 and 2004, it was hosted at Pacific University and the facilities were amazing! It definitely had a championship feel and it felt amazing to be in that atmosphere.

    Another suggestion, is if OSAA wants to keep the final 8, then incomplete agree that there should be an additional day. There is no reason why, the 2A Championship game should have started at 9pm. We need to do better for our athletes!

    Thank you for your support and getting issues addressed!


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