Sunday, February 15, 2009

AA vs AAA Opening Shots In the Annual Jabberfest

To Borrow From The UFC...."Lets Get It On!"

Athletes: Invariably, AAA wins this battle. It’s purely a numbers game. Kids at a AAA school do not have superior DNA, nor do they wield supernatural football powers. In a bigger school with a bigger pool of students, one is simply going to find more big guys, more fast guys etc. There is a bigger pool of raw material to draw from. This said, there are terrific athletes in AA and as a proportion of their respective rosters/school catchment pool, there is parity.

Coaching: This is a draw in terms of quality. There are exceptional coaches at both levels, there are middle of the roaders and there are guys who struggle a bit. Now that AA has shed some skin and the Tier 2 league is the gateway to varsity ball, there is certainly a high degree of coaching parity in the league and it is of good quality. If you take a good look at both leagues, there is probably more parity in the AA coaching ranks than there is at the AA level. The extremes are smaller and I therefore have to give the nod to AA for that reason.

Player Development: This year more than ever, it will be even more self-evident that player development at both levels is up for grabs. In fact, with the coaching being equal, one might say that with smaller roster sizes, the AA kids are getting more one-on-one time with their coaches. On the other hand, training with a larger pool of athletes and hence a bigger, faster practice environment, the AAA kids carry an advantage. Fact is, at combines and at Sr. Bowl, AAA players don’t stand out any more than the AA fellas. Quite frankly, player development has a lot more to do with individual staffs than it does with either league in its entirety. I have seen more than one AAA coach from a truly big school with a “loaded” roster rely on sheer brute force and athleticism instead of innovation and getting the best from each player. It is a very safe assumption to state that coaches with less to choose from will by necessity place a higher emphasis on player development in order to compete at the highest levels in their league. This is the case with a couple of the Catholic schools at AAA and is surely the case in AA’s elite. This one goes both ways for the reason’s stated above.

Player Exposure: There is more TV exposure for AAA. Everything else is even. Here is the deal however: Colleges on both sides of the border don’t tune into our year end broadcast or spend much, if any time watching cable broadcasts. What they do look at is video and combine results. A good athlete is a good athlete and all HS players have access to numerous recruiting sites, promotional sites etc on the net. Further, with the help of their coaches and the networking that takes place in the BC High School Football coaching fraternity, quality student-athletes (grades, grades, grades!) have their day with the post-secondary folks. Two exceptions to this statement of parity: AAA schools STM and New West have the track-record behind them of finding opportunities for their grads.

League Parity: In 2009 this will hands down go to AA. The AAA West Conference sinks all hope of claiming otherwise. The 2006,2007,and 2008 varsity playoffs have convincingly demonstrated that there is more parity in the upper echelons of the AA varsity league than there is in the AAA varsity league. If you want excitement and a game where you cannot pick the winner six weeks in advance, go see the AA varsity championship game.

Media Exposure: From a Television perspective, this is a landslide for AAA. The TV broadcast of the AAA Subway Bowl championship game; local cable broadcasts of AAA ball, and The Province Games of the Week are a testament to this. Alternative media sources like blogs, forums and Facebook are leaveners to some degree. The local print media around most schools is very balanced and Howard at The Province provides superb and equitable coverage across the board. Jesse Olsen’s BC High School Football report in 2008 got better each week and was certainly balanced.

Again, TV is AAA’s domain and an explanation is due. BC High School Football is ever evolving and a work in progress. For the past 15 years or so, AAA has been the organization's “elite” and "cause celeb" feature league. Wanting to put its best foot forward to the public and with limited resources, the league rightly chose to televise and promote the AAA varsity tilt as its showpiece.

The 2009 reorganization of BC High School football into three tiers is a result of growth and the tremendous competitive strides that many of the competitive AA programs have made. As listed above, by virtue of parity, AA is a more competitive and therefore exciting league than AAA. The fact is though, on a year to year basis, the giants still lurk at the AAA level and there is a lot of political inertia behind its being the feature gig.

Soooo, to give some advice to folks who chaffe at the idea of AA’s TV exclusion on championship day in the form of a paraphrase: Give unto AAA that which is theirs and give unto AA that which belongs to them.

What belongs to AA? The league is tougher to win, is up for grabs by a bigger pool of evenly competitive teams and the AA championship by that virtue is a rarer and harder won commodity. Some hi-lights and interviews during the Subway Bowl half-time broadcast would surely be nice.

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