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Texas forces 7 of 8 playoff teams into 10-hour round trip to tourney

Prep Rally

Forgive us here at Prep Rally for sounding redundant, but Texas' University Interscholastic League is in the midst of yet another remarkably ridiculous run of horrendous playoff scheduling that just can't be overlooked. After fall football playoffs that required teams to travel across the state -- or venture into a neighboring state -- rather than face each other near each team's backyard, and basketball playoffs that forced top-seeded teams into three-hour road trips, UIL served up a soccer playoff tournament that included hosting the eight-team boys and girls Class 5A Region I tournament in Midland.

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Midland soccer star Madison Scribner

Midland soccer star Madison Scribner

There's only one problem with having that tournament in Midland: Six of the eight teams playing in it were from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, nearly six hours away. Meanwhile, there was just one team in the tournament from Midland, or anywhere near the site of the tournament, for that matter.

That's right, UIL forced six teams (and a seventh, from a different part of the state, for that matter) to travel between five and six hours each way to play at a site that is nowhere near where those teams -- including the top-seeded teams in both the boys and girls soccer regional brackets -- play their home soccer. It's a ludicrous siting decision that forced nearly half a calendar day worth of travel for schools on a weekend, when kids are supposed to be catching up on sleep and homework.

Eventually, the one Midland team that did reach that round of the tournament, the Midland (Texas) High girls soccer team (of which Madison Scribner is pictured in blue, above), was eliminated in the Regional final, falling to Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High. In case you didn't know, Colleyville is -- you guessed it -- near Dallas. The boys final was an all-DFW affair, with Southlake (Texas) Carroll High edging traditional soccer power Plano (Texas) High, 1-0, in double overtime.

All-in-all, that made for six games in Midland, only two of which featured a team from Midland. Even more incredibly, of the two teams in the boys and girls regional semifinals, the one that wasn't from Midland was from just as far away as Dallas: El Paso. That El Paso (Texas) Coronado High team completed an 11-hour round-trip journey for a one-game cameo that concluded with a 1-0 loss to Southlake Carroll.

Of course, given a state the size of Texas, none of the site decisions are outside the boundary of what's considered reasonable athletic bureaucratic behavior. In fact, UIL probably defends the Midland site on the basis that it is technically nearly halfway between El Paso and Dallas, both of which had teams at the event.

If, indeed, that is the rationale, it would seem pretty flimsy given the relative participation. If UIL had moved the tournament site to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the total travel cost and environmental footprint would have been significantly less than having seven teams drive to Midland, even if it required flying the El Paso Coronado squad to the Dallas area on Southwest Airlines.

Naturally, that common sense approach won't go far with UIL, which sets a site and sticks to it, no matter how faulty the logic may eventually seem. Unfortunately, the soccer season just provided more proof of that rather than a welcome adjustment in attitudes.

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