MOODY: Scheduling snafus hurting soccer

Two weeks into the Division I soccer season, and schools have already had to move two straight weekends of Saturday games.

Ridiculous and absurd are two words that come instantly to mind.

Donnie Nelson, assistant commissioner of the NIAA, said it's a combination of not having enough officials and the pod scheduling of Division 1A. The 1A has its schools go to a site for Friday and Saturday games, and when there are multiple games at one site you need a boatload of officials.

According to Greg Lehman, Carson's first-year soccer coach, there is a meeting Monday which could determine whether more schedule changes are ahead for Division I schools.

"They told us at the start of the year that we might have to switch a couple of our Saturday games," Lehman said. "We've already had to move two Saturday games and we're only in the second week of the season."

The girls have had to play two straight Friday games, one at night and one after school. Lehman isn't in favor of switching to Fridays.

"The girls want to go to the football games," he said.

I asked Lehman about going to Monday and Thursday on a regular basis.

"Playing two games a week takes its toll from a training standpoint," Lehman said. "I'd rather stay Tuesday and Saturday."

Lehman didn't appear to have an issue with playing one game a week, but being a first-year coach he didn't know what other coaches around the league would think about that.

Until then, here are some questions (and suggestions) I have.

Why didn't the league commissioners and officials association get together in the same room and see that there would be a problem this year, and if they saw there could be some problems, address them immediately?

I left an email for Patty Stoddard, the soccer commissioner, and I also tried to reach her by phone. There was no response as of late Saturday.

Why should the Division I schools be the ones to change all the time?

Nelson said one of the reasons is because the Division I schools are closer to each other, which makes it easier to adjust schedules. Personally, I don't care. Administrators constantly complain that kids miss too much school for athletic events anyway, and then there is the busing issues. Maybe the soccer association needs to start recruiting more.

Is there really a need for Division 1A schools to play everybody? Is there really a need for Dayton to go two hours by bus to play a soccer match?

Why can't you just play home and homes with the schools closest to you? Make it more of a geographical thing. One thing that strikes me about Northern Nevada athletics is the inability to think outside the box. You don't have to have the same scheduling format for every sport. You can also have different leagues for different sports.

One thing that has always befuddled me is the way the official's association schedules its crews for Saturday matches.

You should be able to work it with four officials, with one official missing one game. By having four, everybody works one game in the middle. I've covered enough soccer to know that the guys that work the sidelines don't do a ton of running. Every once in a while you will see a guy sprinting down the sideline because of a through ball. Often times, a sideline official won't have to move more than a few yards based on where the defense is.

I've umpired ASA softball for years, and there are times when I've done three or four straight games behind the plate in 90-degree weather with no break. And trust me, working four games with all that gear on is tougher than what sideline officials do in soccer.

Why can't the leagues agree to play on different days? Why can't officials work two games in one day? Why can't Division I games be moved to Saturday night?

I'm exhausted talking about this. I just know it needs to be fixed.


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