Cardinal District high schools will no longer play back-to-back boys and girls varsity basketball games and instead will play varsity games simultaneously at opposite sites, the seven district athletic directors have decided.

For example, if the Woodbridge girls basketball team is hosting Osbourn at 7:30 p.m. Friday, the Woodbridge boys team would play at Osbourn at that same time that night.

The new format also pertains to soccer and lacrosse.

District athletic directors decided to change how games were scheduled because of facility and fairness concerns that were raised by the doubleheader format during its one year of use. Under that system, the boys and girls switched off in regard to starting times--a school's varsity boys team, for example, would play the 5:30 p.m. game with the girls varsity game following at 7:30. On another game night, the girls would play early and the boys late.

Athletic directors said that shuffling the starting times confused fans and put the team playing the early game at a disadvantage because many working parents could not reach the game site on time.

And schools struggled to squeeze in the boys and girls freshman games and boys and girls varsity games in the same gym on the same night. Junior varsity games took place at the opposite site at the same time.

This season, the boys freshman, junior varsity and varsity games will take place in the same gym, and likewise for the girls. Spreading the sub-varsity games throughout the week would tie up gyms and prohibit other teams from practicing, athletic directors said.

Last season, many girls basketball players said they did not like playing the 7:30 p.m. game because a large percentage of fans usually left after the boys game. But when the girls played the early game, the crowd often swelled in the second half when fans arrived for the boys game.

This season, each varsity team will play at 7:30, but parents and students will have to choose which of their school's programs to support.

"When you look at the overall balance of things in fairness, this is the best use of facilities and the most fair across the board for everybody," Potomac Athletic Director Frank Higgins said.

"The big kids all play at prime time."