NIAA realignment column | Northern Nevada schools given no choice but to follow Southand#8217;s lead | SierraSun.com

NIAA realignment column | Northern Nevada schools given no choice but to follow Southand#8217;s lead

Joe Santoro
Guest Column

Whatand#8217;s wrong with the number three?

Babe Ruth wore it. Dale Earnhardt stuck it on the side of his race car. The planet Earth, after all, is the third rock from the sun. You canand#8217;t get a hat trick without it and without it there would be no use for field goal kickers.

Other than Three Blind Mice, Three Mile Island and three strikes and youand#8217;re out, the number three is a pretty honorable digit.

The state of Nevada, though, is on the verge of making it disappear.

OK, not the entire state of Nevada. Not yet, at least. Just the good (albeit misguided and selfish) folks down south.

You see, Southern Nevada wants to align its high schools in four classes: 1A, 2A, 4A Division I and 4A Division II starting with the 2012-13 seasons. They only have three 3A schools as we stand now (Boulder City, Virgin Valley and Moapa Valley) and, well, about a third of their three dozen or so 4A schools canand#8217;t really compete in 4A.

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The reasons given for the Southern Nevada realignment plan (which was given a thumbs up by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Board of Control this month) make sense. They are the same concerns that have always plagued Nevada high school sports and always will: They want to create some sort of reasonable competitive balance, cut transportation costs and decrease the amount of time students are out of class and stuck on a bus traveling to a game.

Sound familiar? Welcome to Nevada high school sports, stranger.

So this is nothing new. And, to be honest, Southern Nevada desperately needs some sort of realignment. No doubt about it.

A three-team league in the Southern 3A, after all, is an embarrassment to the entire state and never should have been allowed to happen. But it did happen and, well, itand#8217;s time to fix it. Boulder City, Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley need some new play partners. So go ahead, stick them in a league with all of the Southern 4A doormats.

But why not just call the new league the Southern 3A instead of some silly, confusing, lipstick on a pig name like 4A Division II? Keeping the four classifications status quo (4A, 3A, 2A and 1A) would make this realignment smooth and easy. The North wouldnand#8217;t have to do a thing except sit back and put another item on its List of Reasons Why Iand#8217;m Glad I Donand#8217;t Live in Southern Nevada.

Well, in case you havenand#8217;t heard, nothing is ever smooth and easy when it comes to the state of Nevadaand#8217;s high school sports.

This time itand#8217;s about ego.

Nobody in the current Southern 4A wants to drop down a class to 3A. And, actually, you canand#8217;t really blame them. You canand#8217;t, after all, have schools in southern Nevada with 2,000 students or more in the Southern 3A when the vast majority of the schools in the Northern 4A have enrollments of under 1,800.

So welcome to the new 4A Division I and 4A Division II, folks. And you thought the Football Championship and Football Bowl Sub-divisions were confusing.

Thatand#8217;s why the northern schools must fix this mess before it gets out of control. The North must fall in line with the new Southern Nevada-driven NIAA and create its own 4A Division I and Division II and eliminate the Northern 3A.

Why?

Southern Nevadaand#8217;s realignment plan currently on the table (and just a NIAA Board of Control free lunch away from approval) would leave two classes in the state without a legitimate North vs. South state championship: the Northern 3A and either the Southern 4A Division I or II (whichever one the Northern 4A doesnand#8217;t want to compete against).

Two classes without a true state championship would be an embarrassing development for the entire state. Hopefully, it wonand#8217;t come to that. But the only way it wonand#8217;t happen is if the North follows the Southand#8217;s lead.

A moment of silence and a tear or two for the Northern 3A is needed here.

Yes, the Northern 3A league added South Tahoe, Elko and Fallon just this past year and is as strong as ever. Itand#8217;s a great league. No question. The move to the 3A revitalized Elko, South Tahoe and Fallonand#8217;s athletic teams.

And now it might be coming to an end.

But before you shed a tear for the good old Northern 3A, donand#8217;t think of the Northern 3A as going the way of the hula hoop, XFL, newspapers, pay telephones and the post office. Think of it merely as a name change. The league is not fading away, itand#8217;s getting a free upgrade. Elko, South Tahoe and Fallon bought coach tickets a year ago when they joined the 3A and now they are about to fly first class once again with the big boys.

A name change from Northern 3A to Northern 4A Division II would be great for everyone involved. Maybe then all the great 3A teams (Truckee football comes quickly to mind) will finally get the respect they deserve if they start to win 4A titles (even if they are Division II).

Itand#8217;s not a perfect solution. Nothing is ever perfect in high school sports. A Northern 4A Division II would have schools with 600 or so students competing against schools with 2,500 students for league, region and state titles. Thatand#8217;s crazy. And it certainly doesnand#8217;t work for all sports, especially the sports where numbers (like wrestling and track) are so important.

But if it prevents two classes from having nothing to play for all year, then it must be done.

At the heart of all this confusion is that it is obvious now that Southern Nevada has all the power in the state. The South has all the money, students, schools, Cher and Barbra Streisand Farewell Tours, and lawyers in the state. Thatand#8217;s been the reality ever since those good folks in Southern Nevada started building high schools on every corner like so many 7-Elevens about two decades ago.

So, if Southern Nevada wants to realign and disrupt the entire fabric of the entire state, well, Southern Nevada will realign. Thatand#8217;s what we learned this month. What Southern Nevada wants, after all, Southern Nevada gets.

Eventually.

About a decade or so ago, the big schools in Southern Nevada wanted to create a new Class 5A. They didnand#8217;t care to compete against the North anymore and were willing to sacrifice a silly state tournament to do it. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and nothing changed, preserving the state tournament for all four classes.

Well, this whole Division I and Division II idea is just the old Class 5A proposal dressed up in a new package. Thatand#8217;s why itand#8217;s up to the Northand#8217;s administrators to prevent the South from finally getting its elitist Class 5A.

And save our state tournaments.