Texas continues to grow, putting stress on the high school sports structure.
If a team is good enough to play deep into the postseason, it could play up to 16 games, which some say is too long.
“That's a long season, very long,” said O.J. Kemp, director of athletics for the Arlington Independent School District. “But not too long, because we’re in Texas, and we love football in Texas.”
Adding another class could reduce the number of schools that compete in each class, meaning fewer playoff games.
“I think it's too many schools; I think it's too many kids,” said Mac Engel, sports writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper.
Texas schools are ranked by enrollment, from 1A to 5A, with 5A being the largest schools and 1A the smallest. As more people move to our state, the big schools just get bigger.
Engel said 5A schools are bursting at the seams and 3A schools are also getting large. But smaller schools, such as 2As, are drying up, he said.
“We feel like It’s balanced from a 5A standpoint of view,” Kemp said.
But she also said there are instances of imbalance within a single class. For example, a large 3A school could have several hundred more students than a small 3A school.
“Schools competing with an enrollment of 1,200 versus schools with an enrollment of 2,000 -- that’s 800 kids, and that’s a significant difference,” Engel said. “If there was ever going to be a need for another class, it's now.”
AISD has the good fortune of having similar-sized schools. Of the district’s six schools, one is a 4A and five are 5A.
“I see what they're talking about in the 3A and the 4As, because there can be a big disparity," Kemp said. "When you have 3A, some of them are as small as 300 students and some of them are as large as 1100, so that's a big difference."
In the current setup, a school good enough to play deep into the postseason could overlap into another sports’ season. That typically leaves smaller schools pounding the dirt.
“If you add another class, then the schools that have numbers that are big enough to have the kid that just plays one sport, they can have the kid that plays one sport," Engel said. "Then they can field a sport of one-athlete kids. They don't have to worry about any overlapping season."
But a perfect system for the state might never be in reach.
“Even if you add another class, it's never going to fix everything," Engel said. "When you have this many kids and populations this big, there's no way to accommodate everybody.”