I remember the first time I visited an orthodontist. He asked if I ever helped move furniture, and I said yes.
That’s when he told me I should think of my teeth as furniture. He said his job was a little like “rearranging furniture.” All I thought about was how much it might hurt.
I hadn’t thought about that event in years. That changed when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association unveiled a long list of agenda items for its annual January convention.
It’s a strange analogy, I know. But hear me out. And yes, change can be painful.
The LHSAA is an organization that operates under a set of by-laws that govern its sports and championships. The basic structure hasn’t changed much since 1991, when Class 5A was added.
In 1998 and 2004, member schools voted against proposals to divide the LHSAA into separate divisions for public and private schools. Those were the most serious attempts to rearrange the LHSAA’s furniture.
The desire to bring about some major change lingers. Since taking over the LHSAA’s top job in 2007, Executive Director Kenny Henderson has championed plans to divide schools into one set of districts or divisions for football and another set of districts for other sports.
Henderson has a revised plan. However, a comprehensive proposal by LHSAA Past President Marlin Ramsey, of South Beauregard High, would ultimately result in a split, albeit for championship events.
Under Ramsey’s plan, the 387 LHSAA schools would be divided into four equal groups of approximately 100 schools, based on enrollment. The schools would compete against each other in district play, then advance to separate championship divisions: four for non-select schools, i.e., traditional public schools and the other two for select schools.
Now that’s really rearranging the furniture.
What’s a select school? By Ramsey’s definition, it’s a school that can limit or control its enrollment.
That would include the LHSAA’s 88 private schools along with magnet schools, charter schools, dual-curriculum schools, laboratory schools and specialty schools. Under Ramsey’s formula, the LHSAA would have approximately the same number of championships.
Ramsey admits the proposal grew out of the frustration Class 2A schools feel because two traditionally football powers/private schools, John Curtis and Evangel, have been required to play in enrollment-based classes since 2005.
Previously, those schools had been allowed to play up in class. When the LHSAA dropped its playing-up rule in early 2005, Evangel was playing up to 5A. Curtis had played in 4A for years. Suddenly, they were somebody else’s problem — a 2A problem.
Plenty of questions remain on all sides. It should be noted that a proposal to allow schools to play up by one classification also is on the agenda again.
The playing up proposal was authored by Jesuit-New Orleans and Zachary High. Keeping the New Orleans Catholic League together is one goal since several schools no longer have 5A enrollment post Hurricane Katrina. This proposal has also failed more than once, but the last vote was a close one.
These proposals should spark plenty of debate. A real deal maker or breaker may be a list of what schools would be considered select. Something tells me that some schools expecting to be non-select may find themselves on the opposite side of the fence.
Henderson’s latest proposal to classify football by divisions and then all other sports separately lays down some parameters for non-football schools in a six-class process for other sports.
Non-football schools would be allowed two single games and two tournaments or three single games and one tournament before football ends. The current Class B-C schools may not like those limits.
Allowing schools to play up by one class could solve some problems in create others. There is much to consider. Will it again be much ado with little action?
It’s too early to say. LHSAA member principals might feel the way I did when the orthodontist tightened the wires. Yes, there’s pressure involved.