By Hoops

I'm back ! Hoops was lucky enough to be able to take a winter vacation somewhere warm. I definitely picked the right time to be away. Upon my return, it appears that my newest topic for discussion has already been chosen for me. For some unknown reason, I was forwarded a number of emails discussing the fact that the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association (MHSAA) has decided not to compile any rankings for Junior Varsity teams this year. It appears that a number of people, coaches and fans, are unhappy about this development. I decided that I would weigh in on this topic.

On the one hand, I understand that such rankings do generate interest and are one of the few things that the local print media might actually publish. They create discussion and do assist tournament organizers in the formation of more competitive draws.  However, I also believe that there is already too much emphasis placed on competition (i.e. games) at the younger levels. Are game results and rankings that important for kids 14-15 years of age ? Is the call for rankings just another example of adult values being placed on youth sport ? Don't we already have enough of that ?

In my admittedly limited knowledge of the principles involved in Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD), a philosophy which is now the basis of all sport in Canada, even hosting a provincial championship at the JV level is not compatible. Is the MHSAA trying to send a message to us all ?

One way or the other, it probably would be helpful if those at the MHSAA stated their reasons for this change. And, ultimately, rankings will be published later in February and there will be a provincial championship tournament played in March.

Sometimes, I wish that we got more excited about important things in the game of basketball, improved coaching and officiating, less competition or fewer games, and more training or practices, among others.

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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9 comments so far,Add yours

  1. I feel bad for the people involved at the JV high school basketball level. By not ranking the JV teams this year, the MHSAA is sending the signal that JV is just not important enough to be ranked. Last year, many good teams that should have qualified for JV provincials got denied in favour of rural teams that could not compete. Last year's JV provincials featured huge mis-matches in competition. I am not sure why MHSAA has decided to abandon their JV rankings but I am not happy about this development. JV is high school basketball and is under the umbrella of MHSAA. I truly feel we are robbing our youth from the exposure they deserve. Some of our JV players devote their lives to the sport of basketball and deserve to be recognized via a top 10 ranking. We need to know who our top JV teams are to reward the hard work that these kids put into the game. Further, we need to know who deserves to be in provincials. Our JV basketball deserves more respect.

  2. Hey.. why did the MHSAA stop at the JV level??? Why not go the full MOnty and stop ranking at the high shcool level? Then they need to get rid of scoring at all levels, promote equal playing time and mixed teams. There. These changes will improve basketball in the province exponentially.

  3. If we don't emphasize competition at the ages of 14-15, what will happen to our 15U provincial team? They'd get slaughtered. By now around that age, kids are becoming passionate about the sport, and loving every second they spend in the gym. And to take away its competitive edge? It judt doesnt sound fair and it doesn't help in the developement of basketball in Manitoba. 2 short years of competitive basketball at the varsity level isn't going to help these players transition into the next level if they do have the chance.

  4. Having coached at both the Varsity and Junior Varsity level, provincial rankings reward hard work and serve as a motivator for athletes. It also sparks discussion and interest which goes a long way in helping to promote the sport. We seem to want to to stick our head in the sand instead of growing the game and its players.

  5. Are game results and rankings important to kids 14/15 years old? YES!! I agree with Mr Lamont. I know the players, their peers in the school and most fans of high school athletics follow the rankings fairly closely. Most teams strive to get on the list and improve their ranking and their is significant debate amongst them about the order of the ranking and if they agree with it. I would like to see the ranking to gr9 as well and I think eliminating it for JV is a disservice to the kids. Remember the vast majority of Basketball
    athletes only have the opportunity to play "competitively"for a few short years in high school and the memories of how their school team was ranked in the province,big losses and victories will stay with them for a lifetime.

  6. I believe my responses made up the majority of the e-mail conversation that was forwarded to Hoops, as I attempted to argue against eliminating JV rankings. While some coaches let me know personally that they agreed with me, in general there were very few responses to that topic by coaches or administrators. The few that did respond seemed to side with the MHSAA position by default, with the main motivation being that we shouldn't rock the boat because it doesn't matter much anyway and a frustration with how the rankings were done in the past. Rather than justifying the discarding of JV rankings entirely, I would hope that last point should provide motivation to improve the process, but that wasn't the case.

    While, I agree that rankings may contribute to some irrational reactions from spectators who don't maintain a reasonable perspective to high school sports, I don't believe that eliminating rankings will solve that problem. The unreasonable will likely just find another method to be unreasonable and it will be exhibited in some other manner. It might just mean MHSAA is flooded with annoying e-mails at the end of the season instead of steadily throughout.

    It's good to see that there are some people who still think this decision is ridiculous, because one of the more frustrating parts of this discussion is the general apathy towards maintaining the visibility of basketball as a high-profile sport within the province. It feels as though a lot of prominent people within the basketball people, who carry a great deal of influence, are just thankful that they have one less thing to worry about if JV rankings are eliminated and are content to allow other sports to gain greater exposure in comparison.

    It's also great that someone mentioned the current format of MHSAA's JV Provincial Championships, because the strange format that was adopted in recent years - which actually increases the difficulty of a Top 10 JV team from gaining a spot in JV Provincials - certainly provides MHSAA with some motivation to eliminated JV Rankings entirely. Without a JV ranking published during the school year, there are going to a be a handful of teams that don't win their Zone's automatic bid, but are clearly among the best it the Province, that will no longer have their ranking during the school season to add credibility for their submission for a wildcard spot in Provincials. Instead, MHSAA can ignore those submissions in order to justify their inclusion of more overwhelmed teams that gained an automatic bid simple due to the new format. So if you're 2nd or 3rd in a very strong conference, you might be on the outside-looking-in without any rationale provided for the decision.

    Lastly, it's frustrating that the LTAD continues to be the fall-back justification for all of these decisions. While it's a valuable guideline, it's far from practical or realistic in application and it's concerning that it's rarely questioned with some healthy skepticism. The LTAD doesn't really provide much detail as to why they have chosen to introduce certain concepts at certain ages and they seem to avoid introducing the concept of competition gradually. Plus, if we're really following the LTAD, then we shouldn't even be having Provincial Teams at younger ages. Realistically, the concept of JV Rankings isn't as ridiculous as it's being made out to be, as it introduces athletes to the idea of making games meaningful with results that carry some wight. Like anything, the concept could be a very useful tool if it were executed with more conviction and knowledge.

  7. Here's a new idea...a jv basketball expert in manitoba can make a website and start creating their own jv rankings. And this person can organize their own championship tournament at the end of the season if MHSAA doesn't want to run one or whatever.

  8. Also, disagree with the author, think their should be more competition rather than less. I think competition is 1 of the main aspects that make sports fun

  9. Agree with the majority of the comments here that eliminating the jv rankings was not a good idea. I don't really have a horse in the race, as I don't coach, play or have a kid in jv. However I have a daughter that did play jv a few years ago for a ranked team, and the rankings were definitely motivation.


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