CHARLESTON, W.Va. - If you saw the Class A football All-State list in Tuesday's edition, it might have appeared a little curious.
Then again, if you're like me and have tracked All-State football as a hobby or long-running interest, it might have looked more familiar than anything you've seen in the last decade.
The West Virginia Sports Writers Association, by way of its football All-State selection committee, decided this year to reduce the number of selections on each side of the football by two players. This cut the number of players recognized on the first and second teams by a total of eight players per class.
That's 24 fewer players receiving first or second team honors, and there is a substantial ripple effect. Since the special mention list remains at the top 30 players not to make first or second team, and the honorable mention list stays at 40, the move bumps 24 players from receiving mention at all.
But before anyone cries "foul" or spends time devising conspiracy theories as to why such a move was made, let me freely present the reasons.
First, the All-State football team dates to 1917 and is the oldest team of its kind in West Virginia high school sports. Once honorees began to be differentiated between offensive and defensive players, the traditional number of players recognized on both sides of the ball was set at 13.
These aren't antiquated traditions. They remained the number recognized until the 1990s, when the lists began to expand, just about the same time political correctness - and the increased pressure on families to find college money through athletic scholarships - began creeping into everyday American life.
It's easy to imagine the line of thought that led to the bloated lists.
What will Johnny's mother do if her son isn't a first-team All-State player? Will they protest the office building in which we work? Why don't we just add a spot to each side? What's it hurt?
And so it was. As a writer who has attended these meetings since 1998, I can say that is pretty close to the way it evolved.