When the University Interscholastic League powers-that-be rocked the erstwhile district world of the past two scholastic school years, the plans for 2012-13 reclassifications and realignments, released in February, had a dramatic effect on many. In most cases, former members of local districts were scattered to the UIL winds, while others, for good or bad, stayed the same.
Of course, the redistricting applied to football and basketball, the semi-annual primary attention getters when it comes to realignment. But while the UIL is changing student-population parameters and prompting coach and media gatherings on realignment day, it is also about the business of matching up district opponents in the other UIL-sanctioned sports.
These “lower-profile” sports — (not a term wisely used within earshot of a soccer parent — are often held to a different set of qualifiers, due to the hit-and-miss occurrence of whether the particular sport is played within a school district and the relative concentration of teams.
Organization of the diverse sports can lead to quite a different arrangement, in terms of the teams making up a district — or not. Sometimes the district members follow a logical order (though some coaches might question some of the logic), set forth by the football-basketball realignment. But other sports’ redistricting is less transparent, and may be the result of a hard-to-fix situation.
While baseball, softball and volleyball districts mirror most football opponents, virtually every UIL-member school plays the three sports. Soccer is gaining popularity, and becoming more prevalent with each year.
There are currently 250 basketball programs in 32 districts around the state in the 4-regioned Class 4A, for example. Soccer has produced 157 programs, with 25 districts playing in the 4A classification across just two regions. Doubling the numbers for boys and girls varsity teams (with few exceptions) and then doubling again for Regions III and IV gives a more accurate picture of participation, and the challenge of divvying up districts.