All-Section Teams A Mess

More Than a Game

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This just isn’t working.

Since the Arizona Interscholastic Association went to online voting for all-section and all-division/state high school teams in sports a few years ago, problems have abounded.

The most egregious involve some of the best teams in the sport walking away with zero players recognized.

But that’s the coach’s fault. If a coach doesn’t nominate a player, other coaches can’t vote for them.

We should return to the old system, where coaches gather to vote for the all-section and all-state teams. In that instance, any coach can nominate a player from any team even if the player’s coach doesn’t show up for the meeting.

It’s actually easier for coaches to go to aia365.com to nominate and vote than to drive to a meeting of coaches to pick the teams. But many coaches object to the system and simply don’t participate.

Now, I much prefer having the coaches gather — and talk about the players nominated. But then, even if coaches preferred the old system — they ought to participate in the new setup. The kids suffer when the coaches sulk.

Of course, some coaches probably just forget to cast a vote — or maybe they don’t like dealing with computers and the Internet.

Whatever the reason, they need to get over it and nominate players and vote every season.

What prompted me to write this is the latest in a long line of examples of good or even great teams having no players on an all-section or all-state team. Snowflake won the Division III Section IV boys basketball championship this season, but not one Lobo is among the 12 players listed on the all-section team. Maybe that’s why Snowflake coach Andy Wood was voted section Coach of the Year. Hey, he must be a good coach if he leads his team to a 25-6 record without a first- or second-team honoree.

I’m joking. Obviously, a team that strong had at least one or two of the top 12 players in the section. But apparently Wood didn’t participate. At least, that’s the only thing that makes any sense to me. But it’s not the first time the best team in a section or the state didn’t get involved in the current system.

I remember Blue Ridge winning the Division III boys soccer state championship a couple of years ago and no Yellow Jackets made the all-state team because their coach didn’t nominate anyone for the all-section team so they weren’t eligible for the all-state team. Since it was the first year of the new all-section and all-state voting system, that’s somewhat understandable. The coach said he didn’t realize the deadline had already passed when he went to the Web site to nominate players after his team had won the state championship.

But to have this happening several years later is ridiculous. As a result, so few players get recognized. Of course, some coaches and athletic directors pad the all-region or all-state teams by nominating everyone. For example, some all-region basketball teams have had eight players on the first team and another eight on the second team. It was just as bad in many other sports. That just waters down the honor, diluting the significance of making that team. All-star teams should have a starting lineup — that’s it.

But I also believe there’s a place for honorable mentions, which the current voting system ignores.

So, kids like Kain England, Chaz Davis and Matt Davis don’t end up on the Div. III All-Section IV Boys Basketball Team. I think England deserves a spot on the second team after averaging 9.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks a game. Chaz Davis averaged 9.3 points, 2.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.9 rebounds. Matt Davis averaged 8.1 points, 1.5 steals and 1.4 assists.

Payson coach Joe Sanchez nominated them and they at least deserve honorable mention status. Instead, they go unnoticed.

The same goes for Harley Turney and Tessa Hintze on the girls all-section team. Arissa Paulson made the first team and Arianna Paulson the second team. But you can’t tell me those other standouts don’t deserve their names somewhere on that squad. And what about Cori Barnett?

The current system is just sad and I’m upset for all the deserving kids that go unrecognized.

Fortunately, the AIA this year moved to smaller sections where every team faces every other one. Now at least the coaches are familiar with kids they need to vote on for all-section.

But we need to go another step and go back to having coaches get together to pick these all-section and all-state teams in person. Sure, it’s inconvenient. But it worked much better than the system we have now.

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