The high-profile coaches in the Chicago Public League voiced their displeasure over the CPS’ decision to have two super conferences in basketball.
It’s challenging to find anyone in favor of the “super conference” decision, but maybe even more important is the fact it’s difficult to find what the real positives are in turning a system that didn’t appear broken into what it will become next year.
There will be two “super conferences” for the 2017-2018 season.
The Red South-Central will include Morgan Park, Simeon, Curie, Bogan, Brooks, Vocational, Dunbar, Hyde Park, Brooks and Harlan.
Young, Orr, Marshall, Farragut, Lincoln Park, North Lawndale, Prosser, Uplift, Von Steuben, and Westinghouse will make up the Red North-West.
Here are a half dozen reasons why the super conference idea is a bad one for Chicago Public League basketball.
1. There was zero input from Public League coaches
Chicago Public League basketball is the kingpin of CPS sports. Prep hoops in the city is important in so many ways, generating the most buzz and interest with his passion and history. As a result, Public League basketball needs to be taken care of.
So why wouldn’t CPS administrators, before making a sweeping change, reach out and discuss potential the parameters of the idea with city coaches before making it official? Why not listen to possible pitfalls or improvements to the idea? Why not hear other potential ideas? Why not work together to try and come up with the best solution for everyone involved in Public League basketball?
Unfortunately, Chicago Public League coaches weren’t consulted in any way. Would the Big Ten make the biggest changes in athletics to their conference without conferring with the league’s athletic directors? In the city, the coaches are the figureheads of their respective sports programs.
2. Geography will create travel headaches
When putting together two super conferences in a massive city, it’s important to have some sort of geography involved. When trying to place the 20 “super” teams in two leagues it just makes sense to do because of travel logistics.
But when you go the whole “super conference” route with 10 teams in a division, the geography becomes a bigger obstacle.
The travel now goes way beyond neighborhood travel. Young to Von Steuben in rush hour traffic? Curie to Brooks? Good luck in getting those tip times off on time.
3. One super conference is more super than the other
The newly formed Red South-Central boasts three of the top four programs in the city in Simeon, Morgan Park and Curie, all of which have won state championships in Class 3A and 4A in the past two years. Plus, Bogan is an established power and Kenwood is an up-and-coming one.
The Red North-West includes teams from the old vaunted Red-West, including Young, Orr and North Lawndale, but the mix from the old Red-North doesn’t lift this side of the super conference up.
The Red South-Central is clearly deeper and stronger. This is not competitive balance, and it’s something that has certainly riled up coaches of the elite programs.
4. “Others” left out in no man’s land
Under the old format, which included six teams each in the Red-South, Red-Central, Red-North and Red-West, there were 24 teams included in the upper-echelon of the Red mix. Now that number is 20, thus there are four fewer schools as part of the “in-crowd” in CPS basketball.
When you aren’t part of that “in-crowd,” in this case the Public League’s Red Division, you’re constantly trying to fight an uphill battle in improving and building your basketball program and brand.
Yes, that’s always been the case in Public League basketball, but it’s been enhanced. Inclusion has gone in the wrong direction.
5. Technically speaking, this isn’t a “super conference”
We have a super conference with two 10-team divisions. But there aren’t 20 programs in the city that are super. So we’ve combined several of the really super programs, all in one league together, with a few lesser programs.
Hey, it’s better than being left out in the cold of city basketball. That’s what the bottom tiered teams in the newly formed super conferences are feeling. At the very least, they are a part of it.
But there are going to be some programs taking their annual lumps in this super conference. Hyde Park, as an example, just went from battling Curie and Kenwood in the Red-Central to now having to beat Curie, Kenwood, Simeon, Morgan Park and Bogan just to be in the top half of the conference.
6. Scheduling quirks lessen the interest and hype
Scheduling is another negative with the “super conference.” The neighborhood rivals will go from playing twice a year in a home-and-home to playing a single game.
Then to make matters worse there was the lack of foresight in putting together the schedule that was released for the 2017-2018 season.
Simeon-Morgan Park is the best thing going right now in the regular season –– not just in the city but the entire state. That blockbuster will be played one time next season. And it will be played Dec. 7. That will likely be the third or fourth game of the season for those two powerhouses and just their second conference game.
Morgan Park will play Curie Dec. 12 and Simeon will play Curie Dec. 14. The three biggest games in the Red South-Central will all be played before Dec. 15.
I think the scheduling gods in the city could have looked at things and said, “You know what? Maybe a game or two of significance, the ones that really matter, would be really good to have in January.”