High School Sports

Commentary: Changing the selection process for All-Bi-City teams

My sports journalism career has taken me to various parts of this state over the past 28-plus years, the last 13-plus here in Columbus.

At each one of my stops, the newspaper — in some form or fashion — has selected high school all-star teams. They came with various names. The Ledger-Enquirer has the All-Bi-City awards.

In doing research, I discovered that one of my predecessors, Bill Blake, back in the 1930s picked the first All-Bi-City team. At least I think that was the first — I haven’t found one in any paper before Nov. 30, 1936. He didn’t really give the team a name. In a column, he just wrote that here are the best players from the three local high schools — Central, Columbus and Industrial.

No doubt on the day those selections were printed in the paper there were complaints — from coaches and parents. Everyone thinks they can do a better job than the newspaper’s reporters and editors.

But I also know that people wouldn’t complain if it wasn’t important to them. I have seen All-Bi-City selection on a number of resumes over the past 13 years.

But choosing the teams is not easy. We spend more time on the All-Bi-City teams and the Celebration of Sports Excellence — the awards show we co-host with the Hughston Foundation each summer — than most anything else we do.

With the exception of only a couple of sports — such as riflery, where the average score for each shooter is the only criteria used — all-star selections are subjective, i.e., someone’s opinion. Here that opinion for the most part has been whomever is the high school writer at that time. He or she may have gotten some help over the years from the sports editor or other writers who may have covered some games.

This year we are going to try something different with how the All-Bi-City selections are made — the coaches in each sport are going to vote on the teams. We will reserve the right to make sure that the process is as fair as it can be.

The coaches will nominate players just as they have done in the past. We will collect those nomination forms and return all of them to each coach in that sport. Then he or she will vote for the players — they won’t be able to vote for their own players.

I hope this process goes smoothly, but I must admit I have some concerns. Getting information to and from coaches can be a challenge at times.

In kind of a trial run, the football coaches are voting this week for our Dandy Dozen this year. The nomination forms are due in today. The team will appear in the paper on Aug. 22.

And in a note to softball, volleyball and cross country coaches, your schedules, rosters and preseason forms are due in today as well.

Kevin Price, 706-320-4493, kprice@ledger-enquirer.com