Scheduling Non-league Contests

April 20, 2019

By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA, CIC

Many leagues or conferences generate schedules for their member schools and some athletic administrators may actually contribute to a group effort to design the total league schedule. Beyond the league schedule and within the state-wide limits on games for each sport, you may also have the opportunity to add a few non-league contests.

Instead of taking the first call that you get in order to fill these open dates, there are a few things that you should initially consider.

  1. Will the potential opponent represent a good competitive game for your team? Year to year, the strength of your team based upon the available talent will vary. If for example, you have an experienced group returning, you may want an opponent to challenge them and provide a good learning experience. With a totally young and inexperienced team, you may want a more reasonable opponent.

  2. Do you need an additional home or away game in order to maintain a balanced schedule? While many schools prefer a two-year, home and away arrangement, you may need a specific game in either category for only the upcoming season. In like fashion, an open date later in the season may limit the number of teams which may be available. These two examples may mean you may have to be a little creative and perhaps travel a little further in order to meet this special need.

  3. How far are you willing to have your team travel in order to find a good competitive contest? When you consider the distance and the prospect of missing classes, it may be better to fill an open date with a less desirable opponent who is close. It is always important to take into account the effect of travel upon the athletes, since attendance in class has to be an academic priority.

  4. Do the fans of a potential opponent travel well and support their team? If you have a few possibilities to consider for an open date, it would be wise to choose an opponent who might be able to fill some extra seats. Any time that you can increase gate receipts is a good financial decision and additional revenue is always desirable.

  5. Think about open dates in terms of future, longer-term possible solutions. If there is an opponent which is fairly close, has a competitive program and good fan support, it might be wise to cultivate an arrangement which will extend many years as opposed to a short-term one- or two-year answer.

  6. Ask your coach if he or she has a preference of opponents. This step should come after ascertaining the aforementioned considerations. If you can make your coaches happy, however, it never hurts. Taking your coaches wishes into consideration can help create and maintain a good working relationship and this is always important to the operation of your athletic program.

David Hoch retired in 2010 after a 41-year career as a high school athletic director and coach. In 2009, Dr. Hoch was honored as the Eastern District Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. He was also presented with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award, and in 2000 he was named the Maryland State Athletic Director Association’s Athletic Director of the Year. Dr. Hoch has authored over 460 professional articles and made more than 70 presentations around the country. He welcomes comments and questions and can be reached at: davidhochretad@gmail.com

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