There have been many discussions since Crestview High School's boys basketball team was forced to move Saturday's Class 7A region final game with Oviedo High School from the Crestview gym to the Northwest Florida State College Arena in Niceville because of insufficient seating.
I've talked to several fans and have seen several posts on Facebook indicating most locals were unhappy with the move, even before the Bulldogs lost.
I hear you and I understand the frustration.
Crestview High School's administration wasn't happy about the move, but the Florida High School Athletic Association has certain rules that — like them or not — must be followed.
Personally, I think there's something wrong with the FHSAA requiring seating capacities for arenas in any sport.The FHSAA doesn't have to stretch the already overextended district school budgets to build new facilities that accommodate standards they set.
The fact is, Crestview's gym doesn't seat the mandated 1,100 people required for a Class 7A region final. Crestview athletic director Tim Hatten and CHS Principal Bob Jones both said they sold a little more than 800 tickets for the region semi-final game with Lincoln. Anybody at that game will tell you it was a packed house with fans standing along the walls.
If you get right down to it, Niceville's gym isn't any bigger than Crestview's gym. Fort Walton Beach's gym might just slip in at around 1,100 fans, but I'd be surprised if it did. Choctawhatchee High School probably has the largest seating capacity of any high school gym in the county. I'm going to research the gym sizes in the next week or two.
Every local high school gym at a public school was built when or before Richard Nixon was president. For those of you who don't remember your history too well, Nixon was forced to resign in 1974.
Baker, Crestview, Choctaw, Fort Walton Beach, Laurel Hill and Niceville all have gyms that are more than 40 or 45 years old. I'm sure every local coach would tell you a new gym would make their life easier.
In the past 15 years, every high school in Walton County has moved into a new gym. South Walton High School opened as a new school in 2001 or 2002. Freeport High School moved into its new building about that same time.
Walton High School got a new building about three years ago. And while Paxton School is still in the same building, less than a decade ago the Bobcats moved into a state-of-the-art high school gym.
I understand Okaloosa County can't plunk down several million dollars to build new gyms at five or six schools. And basketball isn't like baseball or football, where you can pull in temporary bleachers to compensate for extra seating needs.
Crestview is not the lazy little community it was when the high school moved to its current location more than 40 years ago. The student population has more than doubled in size, but the gym is still the same size it was when less than 1,000 students roamed the halls.
Both the Crestview girls and boys reached the region finals this year. I believe coaches Kathy Combest and Greg Watson will have their teams back in the region finals sooner than later.
When that time comes, it would be nice if the Bulldogs had a gym that allowed them to play a home game in their home gym.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.