Last weekend I returned to my home state for the Idaho girls' 5A state high school basketball championship.
For years, the state tournament has taken place in Idaho's capital, Boise, rather than rotating locations each year the way Utah does.
It is a format I don't agree with and think needs to be changed.
Playing sports on your home court gives you such an advantage.
Not only does the opposition arrive sluggish and tired from several hours on a bus, but the home school also has the benefit of a larger crowd and the extra incentive to defend the home turf.
Aside from location, the Idaho state tournament had other elements that seemed slanted in the favor of the Boise schools.
I have never seen a tournament format where the highest ranked team did not play the lowest ranked team possible.
After all, is that not the reward for entering the tournament as the highest seed from a given region?
Yet, while a second place seed out of southeastern Idaho played a third seed Boise team, the number one seed from the same conference was paired with the number two seed from Boise.
One would expect that any tournament host would go to all lengths to assure that no accusations of bias or manipulation could be made against them.
However, I left the tournament with the distinct feeling that facilitators had no concern about how the tournament incongruities made them look.
The tournament officiating was also some of the worst I have ever seen.
In theory, the best officials are assigned the state tournament.
Yet, game after game the most fundamental calls of basketball were missed by the tournament referees.
Some programs had even contoured their play style to the officiating, making the more successful team on the floor the team which could get away with the most, not the team that could play the best.
I believe good officiating is a crucial component in maintaining the integrity of any sport and encouraging players to perform at the highest levels while observing the ethics of sportsmanship and fair play.
Needless to say I was disappointed with the direction that the Idaho High School Activities Association was allowing girls' sports to go.
All of the basketball players in the state deserved to have an equal shot at the title.
By allowing those Boise teams to have so many advantages over the rest of the schools, the IHSAA does not truly represent the entire state and robs hard working athletes of their chance for a state championship.
I hope that Utah schools are not headed in the same direction and will maintain programs where the smallest rural school is given the same footing as any other sport program in the state.