It is that dreaded time of the year. No, not spring sports even though the weather makes you think more of winter than spring. It is the week that the W.Va. Sports Writers Association releases its all-state teams for girls and boys basketball.
As someone who has served on these committees for nearly three decades, it behooves me to explain a process that far too many individuals see as a popularity contest rather than a diligent attempt to pick the very best players the Mountain State has to offer.
First, nomination ballots are sent out to every head coach and every member of the WVSPWA around the first of February. Coaches are asked to nominate the top three to five players on their team as well as the top eight players they have seen in each classification-Class A, Class AA, and Class AAA.
Writers are asked to list the top three players they have covered during the season as well as nominate the top eight players in each of the three classifications used by the WVSSAC.
Those votes are then tallied by the committee's chairman and are distributed to the members of the committee on the Saturday of the state championship games at the Charleston Civic Center. Each committee is made of 11 individuals-one from each of 10 regions throughout the state and the chairman. Then, the process of selecting the eight players who will make up the first team, second team and third team of each class begins.
Normally, the selection is an easy one because the vote totals from the more than 200 ballots distributed as well as the team's and individual's success during the season produce a natural break between the three teams.
If a natural break fails to occur or if there are two or more players which members of the committee believes should be on the unit, then a vote is held. Usually, it ends there, but if a tie should occur then, and only then, the chairman is allowed to vote.
Sometimes the individual you pushed wins, other times he or she loses. It's the way democracy works. There is no North/South or East/West or even rural/urban or public/private split among these committee members. Our job is a simple one, but not an easy one.
Does the committee makes mistakes? Maybe. It depends on whether or not your favorite player was named to the squad or was left off. After so many years of working with those who, like the writers that I work with daily here, cover high school sports, you begin to realize one very important quality-their love of the game.
So, just a suggestion, when you read through the lists that will be appearing in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel this week, understand the hard work and time that these individuals put into selecting these teams. They may not be perfect, but then again, who is?