Bombers Take Old Problem to New Audience (AP Analysis)

by Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press  on Monday, Jul. 29, 2013 7:38 am  

Such a change could have Class 5A powers like Camden Fairview and Wynne facing Class 6A powers like El Dorado or Pine Bluff for conference titles - though Wood didn't say who was opposing her.

"We need to make it an education issue. Others approach it from a competition angle," Wood said.

At the AAA, executive director Lance Taylor said the group shares Mountain Home's concerns, too, but that the collective membership makes the rules.

"It's hard to solve a geographic problem," Taylor said. "It's something we need to keep looking at, and try to make things better for all schools."

He suggested that, if students are missing too many classes, Mountain Home and other isolated big schools like West Memphis or Texarkana can play games on Saturday, or schedule double-headers, or meet halfway at a neutral site. Wood said she had seen neutral-site games devolve into logistical nightmares.

"Someone has to provide gate workers, someone for the press box, someone for the lights, maintenance ... concessions," she said. "There's no crowd."

Sen. Johnny Key, from Mountain Home, introduced a bill at this year's legislative session that would have limited conference-game travel to an average of 125 miles one-way. The bill was referred to an interim committee, which held a hearing on the matter last week.

While bills directly involving high school athletics are relatively rare, and Taylor believes the AAA system is the appopriate forum for Mountain Home's travel-limit idea, Wood said taking the fight to the Capitol may work because the House and Senate voted this year to let home-schooled pupils take part in sports and other activities at their local school districts.

"Now that they've intervened in home-schoolers in athletics and bands, it'll be easier to intervene the next time," she said.

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