Comments I made while reminiscing about the founding - and now imminent collapse - of the All-American Football Conference apparently have started a few conversations at East Juniata.
At least that's the impression I was left with after covering a game there Tuesday. Throughout the afternoon, several people had thoughts to share.
To recap: East Juniata is in the Tri-Valley League for all sports but football. The venerable TVL has been losing schools for years, and will have as few as two schools in some sports next fall, but seemingly remains viable in field hockey, basketball, softball and baseball.
The AAFC definitely is losing two schools next fall, Northwest and Nativity. Two others considered questionable - Carson Long and Lourdes Regional - say they're coming back, and a new school, Pius X, is in. That leaves six schools, one less than this year, if no others choose to join.
The skinny, assuming no other changes, is that the football team would have five conference games assured, versus two for boys soccer due to home-and-home agreements. That leaves 16 dates to fill for the futbol players, compared to just five for football.
But, while every effort is being made to preserve the TVL, no effort at all is being made for the AAFC. True, the TVL has been around a lot longer, and it's easier to schedule open soccer dates than football, but if the same non-league opponents are maintained for football East Juniata has one hole to fill.
Instead, the administration wants to move the football team into the Twin Valley Conference - the TVL's football partner, some would say, but one the Tigers stayed away from when it was founded because they were considered to be unable to compete in that league.
History proves that assumption correct. With all due respect to Tom Feltman and the program he's created, I recall few East Juniata wins against TVC opponents, and the Tigers have not been playing games against the league's upper echelon.
None of this addresses the opposition shortage in other sports such as wrestling or track, the latter a relatively solid and, unfortunately, often overlooked team at the school.
The obvious solution seems to be the Heartland Conference - after all, it is the uber-league of District 4, where East Juniata resides, meaning the Tigers would see the same opponents they might face in district play as opposed to a series of non-conference games against District 3 opponents (interestingly, the same district East Juniata jumped out of). The only argument I've heard against the Tigers joining the Heartland is a lack of desire to travel to Sullivan County six or eight times a year.
It's true that, by population, East Juniata would fall in the Heartland's smallest division. But the conference provides for flexibility in its charter, so the Tigers could theoretically end up in the same division as Lewisburg, Warrior Run and Midd-West, schools against whom they play now or have a history with on the field.
And, yes, the football team would struggle as much in the Heartland as it would in the TVC, but if you're going to be someone's cannon fodder, would you rather it be for a perennial state contender like Southern Columbia or on a road trip to Hegins?
Worst of all, East Juniata apparently is bolting the AAFC without notice, putting half a dozen other schools in a lurch to find games. The two leaving at the end of this year said so a year in advance; the same applies to Juniata's departure from both the TVL and TVC for the Mountain League.
I was told the football team would sink or swim now, which in my mind reinforces the belief by some that a concerted effort is being made to deep six the program.
If you're going to have limited-sports conferences, whether the TVL and all its history, or football-only leagues like the AAFC, you need to fight to save them both - or at least preserve the one that's still breathing without the aid of life support, one that clearly benefits the program it serves.
The administrators are doing what they honestly believe is best for the teams, the athletes and their school. Whether you want to see change - or see the status quo preserved - you need to talk to your school's administration, and to the board of directors. No one else has the power to make something happen - certainly not 20 column inches of drivel by someone who's just offering up his two cents.
But there's mine.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.