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  • Writer's pictureBig Tim

Big Tim's opinion about local teams playing national schedules!!!!!!!

I've gotten into some twitter discussions with a couple of "national" guys. Yes I type that in parenthesis because at least one has no clue about Illinois High School basketball. The 300 mile rule for high school basketball teams in Illinois was lifted a few years ago. I as so happy because I wanted out teams to be able to travel around the country to compete against other states. So to be clear I have no problem with local teams playing out of state or national schedules. In fact I encourage it if your school system can deal with it. It can be a good educational experience and for some kids never get to travel out of state. I know Simeon Career Academy(Chicago) has an academic advisor travel with them when they play out of state. I'm not sure if anyone else does that. I do local high school basketball rankings for boys so I watch the results as best I can. These are how I do rankings for teams who play out of state opponents.

1) If you lose to an out of state team, I may or may not drop you depending on a case by case basis. I do recognize some teams play tough boarding school/prep school types, which most times is a no win situation on the court for so called "normal" high school teams in the state. Keep in mind though that Chicago Public Schools have an "open enrollment" system. This to me gives them an unfair advantage over suburban school systems. So don't cry me a river when I drop you spots for playing out of state teams. With the open enrollment system you can recruit players from all over the city, and pile up the best talent possible. Some city teams go to the suburbs and grab players to come play in the Chicago Public League. Some city teams will even go out of state to procure talent. I won't say who those schools are. Yes some suburban public schools come into the city and procure talent. I know of a couple that do it in other sports as well as basketball. So it's a risk/reward on the court for teams that travel out of state to play those kind of teams.

2) Once again I'm happy our teams can travel more than a 300 mile radius to play teams from other states. It can be a great experience for the young men I was talking about this for years at many high school games. Playing those teams gives the schools that are able to do it great exposure nationally, and help get kids to come to their high school. It's a great marketing tool and you hope it makes the kids better players, and want to get better by getting into the Lab. My problem with the national guys and their "rankings" is they put too much stock in "national" schedules and are ignorant about some of the local teams who would compete very well with those teams. One(Glenbard West) was invited to more than a few events but could not compete because their district would not allow it. I get it especially with covid19 out there. A lot of districts are cautious with the travel and how the virus can spread. Issue is penalizing that team because they are not allowed to play a national schedule. Any basketball person in Illinois will tell you it is asinine not to have Glenbard West in your national poll, especially if you have other Illinois teams in it. There have been other years when very good suburban teams have been ignored by these national "pundits". Illinois High School basketball is not just the Chicago Public league Ladies and Gentlemen. Speaking of CPS......

3) Chicago Public League Red Division has been the best traditional high school league in America for decades and still is. The tough competition in that league gets the teams ready for the State Tournament as their trophies(first, second, third, and fourth), they have piled up over the years since the rule change attest. That rule change was that the Chicago Public League can qualify more than one team for the State Finals. It used to be only one team from the largest Public School system in the country could get to the State Finals. That's right only one spot. In saying this that does not mean the suburban schools are inferior all the time, nor is the talent in these schools. So I am not a hater of the Chicago Public League at all, in fact love going into the City for those games. It's such a great atmosphere in the mostly small gyms, and the fans talking trash to the players, and the players giving it back. It makes the teams have tougher skin for when the State playoffs come around. Simeon, Whitney Young, Kenwood Academy, and Orr play "national" schedules on top of the tough league games. It's a great advantage but does not mean some suburban teams do not play tough schedules.

4) I look forward to having the state playoffs finish for the first time in 3 years. It will also be a test of how well these national schedules fare for the teams that choose to play them. Will it help going to play those top national teams and losing by 30 to them? Will the ones that you won end up helping come playoff time? I'm interested to see what comes about and God willing I hope to be able to see them. Let's allow the kids to finish the season IHSA even if it has to be in empty gyms. The players should be able to finish out their season competing for trophies. I'm off my soapbox. Big Tim out.

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