It is the middle of June and the beginning of summer vacation for a high school teacher and track coach. With my mother, wife, and two four-year-olds, we’re hanging out at our summer home in Three Oaks, Michigan. And I’m spending too much time on the computer without a real good reason.
First reading about it in the Chicago Tribune on Friday of last week, I found over the next few days that I couldn’t get enough news and opinion about the changes in the Illinois High School Association’s so-called “multiplier” rule. According to some new rules, the state competition classifications of many schools in our Chicago area would change in the sports that I coach, cross country and track and field. It was big news—the biggest since the creation of the multiplier itself six years ago.
The actual IHSA site gave me more direct information and the unprocessed details from the source, so to speak. ESPN Rise/Dyestat, a web site that covers Illinois high school track and field and cross country, quickly published a long story written by Mike Newman that gave me more to think about. CPSFan.com, a blog about Chicago Public Schools sports, made several posts, but it was interesting that there wasn’t much commentary from the readers. The TrackTalk.net forum, a bulletin board with threads on various Illinois high school track and cross country topics, had two threads on the changes which provided some short form analysis, some by coaches and adults, some by the high school kids who post there most regularly. I had some email back and forth and a telephone exchange with my colleague Matt Haffner from Saint Ignatius College Prep, where I coach and teach.
I emailed Fenwick track coach Marcus McKinley and IHSA boys state track and field meet organizer John Polka about some practical implications of the resulting change in classification for so many schools in our area. There were big implications with the changes in terms of the arrangements for our sectional track meets. A rotation plan for organizing these meets for the next four years, at least, had begun this year by assigning different schools as hosts for each year–and that plan now has to be scrapped because Fenwick, one of those host schools, was no longer going to be competing in the same classification anymore.
But still I wanted more. I had an email exchange with Mike Newman, with some critique of his web site and articles as well as various quibbles and squabbles with him about the multiplier and other issues.
I also found myself wasting too much time thinking about the upcoming fall cross country season, reflecting on the spring season, and looking aimlessly through the crazy conversations of the high school kids on the TrackTalk forum just for some more input. I found myself tracking other news, like news from the New Balance Nationals high school track meet, where meet officials miscounted laps in a championship race, as well as ongoing conversation about Orland Park Carl Sandburg High School’s star runner Lukas Verzbicas and his sub-4 minute mile last week in his last high school race.
Finally, it has struck me that I need to bite the bullet and instead of prowling for information constantly, I need to do some processing and production of my own. My wife, a voracious book reader, writes a blog that covers pretty much anything she wants to write about, all of it written and shaped from her interesting perspective as an adoptive mother and a seventh-grade humanities teacher. My daughter, who likes to cook, does a blog about cooking. I have a couple friends who blog, including one by Patrick McHugh, an athletic director and track coach, who writes about his work and high school sports at his school, North Shore Country Day.
My back and forth with Mike Newman included some clear indications that I had my own point of view and ideas about various matters. Instead of complaining, quibbling, and prowling, I should stick my own neck out there.
So here goes.