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Returning to old schedule would benefit Big 12 soccer tourney

Nov. 4, 1999

The Big 12 Conference women's soccer tournament began Wednesday. After the opening round, the winning teams continue play today, with the championship game on Saturday.

The first game began at 11 a.m. with the Lady Bears taking the field at 1:30 p.m. The rest of the top eight teams continued play in the afternoon.

Admission into the fourth annual Big 12 tournament at the Blossom Athletic Complex in San Antonio is $5 for anyone who wants to attend.

There are individuals from each university who would like to make the drive south to support their peers and friends, but with the current setup, fans may not have the chance

to be supportive. Time and day changes have made it almost impossible for them to attend.

The Baylor game, a 2-0 win over the Longhorns, started in the middle of the day. A 1:30 p.m. match, which wasn't even the first game of the day, was almost impossible for students and other fans to attend. For those who work in traditional weekly jobs and for students who tend to have classes during the day, having the bulk of the conference tournament on two weekdays makes things difficult.

To make matters worse, it seems as if some Big 12 administrator considered these variables when designing the new schedule. After the first day, the games don't begin until the afternoon, which gives fans a little more time to get there. And the championship game, as always, is in the late evening Saturday, which also gives fans a good chance to see the battle for the conference championship.

But better than keeping the schedule somewhat manageable would have been to leave it the same. In the three previous years, the conference tournament was always held Thursday to Friday. For the 1999 season, the weekend activities were pushed up to Wednesday and the Friday games were left out. This move benefits no one.

In addition to the fans having trouble making it to games, the players also have to miss a mid-week class day. With the old system, the teams that advanced to the finals only had to make up two consecutive classroom days. Now, the teams that go the distance have a day in the middle of the action in which they have to return to school and try to concentrate on schoolwork.

So the current challenge for Big 12 officials is to return to the days when the tournament benefited the students and the spectators. Having a conference tournament in the middle of the week does not take into account fans with day jobs and those students with classes.

Administrators and coaches all contend that fan support is essential to teams winning matches and games. The players have even said that playing in front of friends and family makes for an easier game in some respects. According to the Big 12, those aspects might be true, but they are not true enough to keep the system the same.

There might have been other variables in the change, but whatever they are, the end result was the same. Players and coaches must go into some of the biggest games of the season without a large fan base.