There was controversy when the tournament divided into two classes back in 1972, but the tournament continued to be successful. However, I think the latest change may have a lasting effect on the tournament's popularity.
Back in 1972, the IHSA didn't put into place an arbitrary class system. They simply recognized a state of affairs that already existed. There was a huge disparity between the quality of basketball played between the smaller downstate schools and the bigger urban schools.
Hebron, with a an enrollment of 98 students, was a great story. But a small school winning the state championshiop in a one class system was not likely to happen again.
So for the past 35 years, if you wanted to know who the best team in the state was, you simply had to follow the AA tournament. But as the IHSA moves to a four class system, that will no longer be the case. We won't know who has the best team in the state. I have no doubt that many years the 3A team might be better than the 4A team, but they won't have a chance to prove it on the court.
We've seen this happen in football which has expanded into a ridiculous 8 classes. No one knows who has the best team, and no one can keep track of all the state champs.
Now basketball titles will also be cheapened.
As it now stands, teams that will compete with each other in conference, will enter separate state tournaments. Does that make any sense?
At least we'll still have the city tournament. Until they decide we need more city champs, too.
Oh and the punchline:
The class-expansion vote comes after a recent survey of member schools showed 64
percent approval for the move. Fifty-seven percent of member schools (426 of
752) responded to the survey, which the IHSA released Dec. 20.
The IHSA made this historic change at the behest of only 272 of the 752 member schools. So there was not an outcry for a change, nor a reason for one.