Vaught's Views: 45th District making the right change

February 27, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

One long-time tradition will change at this week's 45th District Tournament - and it is a change that should be applauded by everyone.

There will not be a hospitality room when the tournament starts Monday night at Lincoln County High School. Instead of providing food for school officials, tournament sponsors, media members and others, the 45th District has a novel idea. It's going to feed the players.

"Hospitality rooms are badly abused," said Danville athletics director Sam Harp. "It's an impossible job to supervise.

"Our whole purpose should be to take care of the players rather than patting ourselves on the back. The tournament is for the players. They are the ones working and participating in the tournament. This is the right thing to do, and probably something that should have been done before."

Apparently everyone in the 45th District feels the same way because Harp's proposal to do away with the hospitality room was approved by a unanimous vote of the participating athletic directors.


"A hospitality room is the most demanding part of hosting a district or regional tournament," Boyle athletics director Jim Spears said. "It creates a lot of stress because there are only a limited number of passes available and you have a lot of folks that want to take advantage of the hospitality room. It's always a strain on the athletics director and coaches because you run the chance of offending someone who helps your school and no one wants to ever do that.

"Plus, Sam made a great point that the ones being overlooked are the athletes. What we were doing before was not in the best interest of the kids. Feeding the team party is just a better thing to do."

This is not a drastic money-saving procedure

This will not be a drastic money-saving procedure since most of the items in a hospitality room were donated by area merchants. Now those same donations either will go to feed the players, or won't even be needed because there's no way the teams will consume nearly as much food and drink as those with hospitality room passes normally do because the passes usually end up being used by many more people than originally planned.

While coaches, school officials, media members, sponsors and others enjoy food in the hospitality room, the players leave the gym with perhaps a soft drink. That's just not right and the 45th District has taken a bold, but needed, step with its new policy.

When Boyle County and Danville host state semifinal football games, there is no hospitality room. When the regional baseball tournament is played, there is no hospitality room. Same for soccer. And softball. And track.

"Some parts of a hospitality room might have a valid purpose," Spears said. "But the players are the ones who the tournament should be about. I don't deserve to be in a hospitality room and neither do most folks who end up in there. I just think we can eliminate a lot of heartache this way and do what is right for the players."

The next step will be for the 12th Region Tournament to do the same thing. Most teams travel even longer distances to play in the regional. Most of the games are also on school nights.

Count me among those who still wonder why district winners don't get to host first-round regional games. That eliminates travel for half the teams and also eliminates some teams getting an extra day of rest simply because of the luck of the draw. Some other regions reward district champions with a first-round regional game, but not the 12th Region.

However, there's no reason the 12th Region can't follow the 45th District's lead and provide hospitality for those who deserve it - the participating players.

"I don't know if we what are doing will be a trend-setting thing or not," Spears said. "I hope it is, but others might have a different opinion. However, I think everyone in our district fully believes we are doing the right thing."

Harp certainly does. "Everybody becomes your buddy when you have a hospitality room," Harp said. "However, what we should all remember is that the tournament is for the players."

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