CINCINNATI - "I do believe that there are many schools in this state who honestly believe they do not have a fair shot (of winning a state championship)," said Commissioner Dan Ross of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
That was Mr. Ross’ reaction to the Associated Press today when an OHSAA bylaw that would have changed how schools are assigned to tournament divisions in the team sports of football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball was voted down 339-301.
Here is an observation that I feel is related: I do believe there are many regions of the state that honestly believe they do not have a fair shot (of ever hosting say a state football championship). Stark County’s stranglehold as designated home for assorted state finals is unquestioned though certainly unwarranted. But I digress.
As the AP reported Wednesday, for years critics from public schools have pointed at the success of football powerhouses such as Cincinnati Moeller and Cleveland St. Ignatius and said that private schools, which can draw students and athletes from a larger area, have a decided advantage. The OHSAA, which sanctions prep sports in the state, tried to offset any real or imagined advantages by forming a committee which considered more than just the size of a school's enrollment when assigning it to a particular division.
The OHSAA had its member schools vote on a proposal which would start with the number of students, but then also take into consideration other measuring sticks for each sport. A boundary factor based on how a school gets students and a tradition factor -- based on how many times a school reached the state/regional tournament over an 8-year span -- were taken into account. Also noted was a socioeconomics factor based on the number of students receiving free lunches at the school.
That to me suggests that class warfare should be injected into on-field struggles. For shame!
A petition drive is still alive which calls for a complete split between public and private schools in OHSAA tournaments.
Ross said he believed that latest vote would likely add to the petition's momentum.
"I think there's a coalition of people across Ohio who support that very strongly," Ross said.
He added that the OHSAA would continue with the status quo while trying to even the playing field for everyone.
Mr. Ross and his acolytes apparently fail to realize that many public schools in southwestern Ohio have more than held their own in state championships. Taft, Winton Woods, Middletown, Colerain. The list goes on and on. Maybe it is the dominance of southern western Ohio schools of all stripes that has the state association chapped. Perhaps they should engender elsewhere in the state, the kind of family support that teams, public and private enjoy in this our region. It certainly contributes mightily to success.
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