If you’re confused about what is going to happen when the LHSAA holds its annual convention this week, you’re not alone.
Events of the past nine days have provided more questions than clarity for the principals who are charged with making some major choices. It’s much the same for the public.
How did we get here? Where are we going?
Both good questions and only one has a relatively easy to answer.
Attempts to split the LHSAA into separate groups for private and public schools started in the 1990s. This is not a new thing. Other states have similar issues.
Private schools have long been viewed as having an unfair advantage because they can attract students from an area larger than a traditional attendance zone.
If those students take first-place at a math competition, it doesn’t matter. When that student is a star athlete, it’s another matter. And when the team wins too much and too often, like say John Curtis in football, suggestions of cheating, etc., abound.
The split football playoffs approved in 2013 marked the first time LHSAA schools played in separate championships. Instead of private and public schools we now call them select (private, magnet, some charter, laboratory) and nonselect (traditional public schools).
So where are we going with high school sports in Louisiana? Right now, no one knows.
Just over a week ago LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine announced that the organization’s new attorney, Mark Boyer, issued an opinion that the 2013 split vote was unconstitutional.
The first assumption was that the nine-championship football split was dead and the LHSAA would revert back to five traditional football classes. Not so fast, Bonine said. He also vowed to make sure all proposals are heard and voted on.
A final decision on this whole hot mess — is the current split constitutional and what happens with two other proposals that expand the split — will be decided by legal counsel and parliamentarian Brian LeJeune, superintendent of Jefferson Davis schools.
I don’t envy LeJeune, and I don’t envy the principals who ultimately have to vote.
This is not only a polarizing issue, it’s also very much a North vs. South issue. Principals and coaches in Shreveport and Monroe made it clear they favor the split during area meetings in north Louisiana.
The sentiment filtered down to Alexandria with the Many High contingent led by Principal Norman Booker and others, also attending a second meeting. Booker has proposals to expand the split to also include basketball, baseball and softball in Class 2A separately and then to the entire association.
Meetings in south Louisiana focused more on the rural-metro plan the LHSAA has championed as an alternative to the current split.
When the principals use an electronic device to vote on Friday, theirs will be an individual choice. Do you pick what is best for your school or what is best for the entire association made up of more than just a majority of traditional public schools? Yes, 63 percent of principals approved the split in 2013.
If I got a vote, I’d pick the latter. Adding more championships doesn’t solve the LHSAA’s issues. If you think more trophies means less conflict, then so be it. I don’t buy it. I’m not convinced that the LHSAA can agree to disagree and leave the Friday meeting united, regardless of what passes.
“There’s No I in Team” is a cliché we’ve all heard. It’s steeped in the real basis of teamwork.
There’s no “I” in LHSAA either. I hope those making decisions on the future of the LHSAA keep that in mind.