I’ve had the chance to watch what others have written and reported since the LHSAA’s special-called meeting Wednesday.
There has been plenty of anger, sadness and some shots taken at the LHSAA, along with the 56.5 percent of principals/voters who reaffirmed an expanded playoff split to include boys/girls basketball, baseball and softball.
You’re not going to get that from me, even though I feel all those things. I’m a journalist who’s covered high school sports in Louisiana for 30 years, and I understand there is often at least two sides to every story.
I’m not in favor of adding championships that may put up to 300 teams with losing records in the playoffs. And I still think the playoff split throws trophies at a problem, rather than fixing it.
Let’s move past those points and the issues the select/nonselect schools have with each other. There are important points to make and questions everyone involved needs to ask.
I don’t think Wednesday’s vote killed the LHSAA. Even with a complete split, the 96-year-old organization will have more than 250 members. I’m not sold on a second association, but I do believe it is viable — especially considering the financial resources the private schools have.
Regardless of whether schools stay in one athletic association or split into two groups, some fence-mending needs to be done by the LHSAA and perhaps even a new association.
The past four to five years of intense infighting has made for some great quotes and headlines, but it has unwittingly undermined the purpose of the LHSAA, which is offer a structure/championship experience for high school athletics.
Some days I call it unintended circumstances. It’s collateral damage on the others. That’s my view as a person with a vested interest. I’m learning that casual observers are bored with it — absolutely over the LHSAA and this narrative.
The other thing I know is that the student/athletes on both sides say they don’t understand or care much about these issues. They simply want to play.
How can the LHSAA and/or a new organization flip the script? Can you restore trust when the two factions of the organization don’t trust each other enough to work together?
What is the objective of high school athletics in Louisiana moving forward? Is it about awarding trophies and cultivating multiple standards of excellence?
And what is the championship experience now? Is it about playing at the best venues or raising the most revenue? Or is it more of a balancing act to make things fit?
I suspect there will be other questions, too. In the spirit of change, I’m making a few.
I’ve heard and used the terms “common ground” and “level playing field” over the past 15 to 20 years. They’re out of my vocabulary now.
The reason is simple. I’m not sure any common ground can be found for the LHSAA factions, and I’ve never believed a level playing field exists. No matter have many associations there are and how many trophies are awarded, someone will lose and likely end up disgruntled.
I’ll hang on to “moving in another direction” as a cliché. It’s the one thing we know the LHSAA and its schools are doing. Sorry, there’s no GPS device out there for this.