District swap would make field more fair

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 15, 2000

It’s not exactly creating a level playing field, but it certainly seems more fair. Representatives of the Natchez-Adams School District appealed to the Mississippi High School Activities Association this week to adjust the Natchez High Bulldogs’ schedule to allow the team to play opponents whose schools are closer to Natchez – for instance, schools in Jackson or on the Gulf Coast.

Under the current structure, the Mississippi High School Athletic Association has divided the state into four districts: one for the Gulf Coast schools; one including Jackson-area schools; and the other two encompassing everything else either north or south of a dividing line drawn through Jackson.

For Natchez, which falls in the Southern district, that means district opponents are found in places like Meridian … a city on the far eastern edge of the state and a good four-hour drive (one-way) from Natchez.

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And, unfortunately, the officials with the MHSAA won’t consider changing it.

As the districts stand, they favor the metro area and coastal area teams, who rarely have to travel more than 60 or 70 miles to play district games. Teams like Natchez – semi-isolated in the southwestern corner of the state – have a more difficult time with district play, having to travel exhausting distances on expensive trips.

It seems a more balanced schedule – one that would allow even a game or two each season against closer opponents – could be created, if the athletic officials were so inclined.

But, they are not.

And, to paraphrase Superintendent Carl Davis Jr., Natchez and its public high school athletes once again suffer from a lack of respect found throughout the state of Mississippi.