Nevada vs. Oregon
Living in Nevada, there’s a natural tendency to look westward and make comparisons between the Silver State and the supposedly Golden State of California. Usually we’re satisfied with how we stack up, happy to distance ourselves from the crowds and traffic and enjoy the pleasures of our state (i.e., clean air, outdoor recreation, sports books, etc.).
But after a recent trip to Oregon, I came to the conclusion it might be interesting for us Nevadans to take a glance toward the Northwest and compare the status of high school and college sports in the Beaver State- a state more similar to our own in terms of resources and which also finds itself in the shadow of California – to our own prep and college sports situations.
Here are some sports stories which dominated the Portland Oregonian during the past few weeks:
— JESUIT GIRLS WIN 6TH STRAIGHT SOCCER TITLE – Before 3,000 people at Wilsonville High, the Jesuit High girls won 1-0
Whoa, that’s got to be a misprint. Three-thousand spectators for a girls soccer game
That’s about 10 times the number that came out for the Northern 4A Zone final at Carson High for the game – which included the hometown Senators and area rival Galena Grizzlies. Put in perspective, the 3,000 people at the soccer game was about 150 people more than the 2,842 paid attendance that came out for the 4A state championship football game at McQueen High.
Of course, Nevada’s zone soccer turnout wasn’t helped by a 10 a.m. starting time, or by the $3 ticket prices for students to attend, a fee I heard many say was a reason why they chose not to attend.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, because before comparisons between the Oregon soccer championship and the Nevada soccer championship can be made, Nevada needs to get a girls state soccer championship! With the current schism between the Southern and Northern zone soccer coaches who can’t decide amongst themselves for either a fall or winter season, a zone title is all the state’s girls soccer players can aim for.
The boys coaches somehow compromised and have a state championship game – why should the girls continue to be left out?
When there finally is a girls state championship game, it needs to be played at a decent time, preferably at a neutral site. And let the high school kids in for free to see their friends play; the money made from the state soccer tournament isn’t going to make or break the NIAA. (Those $3 state championship football programs can make up the difference.)
BEAVERTON BEATS MARSHFIELD AT AUTZEN-At Autzen Stadium, the No. 8-ranked Beavers scored 21 points in 57 seconds to defeat No. 3 Marshfield in the state 5A semifinalWhoa, that’s got to be a misprint. The University of Oregon allowed an important state high school football game to be played at the university’s Autzen Stadium.
That level of cooperation between the state universities and the state activities association didn’t exist in Nevada this year. The state football championships were played on the artificial turf of UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium until this fall. But a newly installed natural grass surface combined with a new Rebel coaching staff and the upcoming Las Vegas Bowl made Sam Boyd off-limits for the championships this year.
As for Nevada’s Mackay Stadium, it was unavailable for the football title game because the Pack was hosting Utah State the following day.
So the state football championship was played at McQueen High – a facility which is good for a regular high school game but lacked the amenities for the “showcase” high school game of the season.
There is hope on the horizon for this situation in Nevada, as the NIAA board voted Tuesday to push back the state football championship to the first weekend in December, which would likely end the stadium conflicts with Nevada and UNLV games.
“In the future, we shouldn’t have date conflicts,” said Donnie Nelson of the NIAA staff.
But that doesn’t mean the state championship will move to a first-rate university facility overnight – the 4A final in 2000 is already set to be played on the Southern Zone champion’s home field.
UO RUNS OVER OSU-In the final game of the regular season for both teams, the third largest attendance in Autzen Stadium history, 46,115 watched Oregon beat Oregon StateWhoa, that’s got to be a misprint. What a concept – the two largest universities in the state meet in the final week of the regular season in a contest which climaxes the season.
Even though that seems obvious, it doesn’t happen here in Nevada. Instead, Nevada and UNLV meet in the fourth or fifth game of the season (usually with one of the teams still looking for its first win). The game drew all of 23,000 spectators this year.
What needs to happen is that Nevada and UNLV need to collaborate and get into the same athletic conference – that’s another no brainer – and they need to meet on the final weekend of the season. Even if the two schools can’t agree on the same conference, they could still meet in an end-of-the-season, nonconference game, a la Army vs. Navy or Stanford vs. Notre Dame. It would certainly be better for Nevada to conclude its season against UNLV rather than scintillating Utah State.
Look, I lived in Oregon for two years and Oregonians aren’t any smarter than Nevadans. But in comparing their prep and collegiate sports situations to our own, they certainly seem to have more common sense.
Erick Studenicka is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal.