Unless you’ve been on Mars for a while you know the LHSAA has major issues to address at its annual convention this week.
This public school vs. private school tug-of-war simmered below the surface for years before member principals voted to split the LHSAA’s football championships into separate divisions for select and nonselect schools two years ago.
You can oversimplify it by saying the LHSAA is a high school organization with a championship problem. As in not enough championships to go around for all schools who feel they deserve to win them.
One thing the LHSAA has going for it now is the potential for a fresh start with incoming Executive Director Eddie Bonine, a man who has dealt with some of the same issues in Nevada.
Bonine won’t be in Nevada anymore when he takes over in March, but he understands his role and used last week’s area meetings to gather information and gauge feelings. I’d like to see member schools give Bonine a chance to develop solutions.
This is a complex situation that elicits emotion. It also illustrates the diversity of Louisiana in ways you might not consider before Wednesday’s start of the convention at the Crowne Plaza. Which of the following statements do you think are true:
All the LHSAA’s issues are public vs. private school driven.
There is a north vs. south component to those issues.
Differences between rural schools and urban schools are factors.
More and more schools are conscious of what’s in the best interest of their school and not necessarily in the best interest of the entire LHSAA.
My answer is true to all of the above. If it was only a public vs. private, or as we now say a “select vs. nonselect” issue that would be one thing. But it’s not.
After attending area meetings across the state, I can say that schools in areas outside Baton Rouge view some of the LHSAA’s issues differently.
There’s more of a public outcry from public schools in north Louisiana to fix the private school issues. Remember, most private schools are located south of Alexandria, so the views in south Louisiana take a different tone.
The notion of rural vs. urban school differences cannot be overlooked. Rural schools typically get just about every student near them. Your best choice for a school is right there. Parental choice, academically failing schools and other dynamics don’t factor in for the rural schools like they do for those in metro areas.
I naively believed that most principals voted to better the entire LHSAA until just a couple of years ago. Is it wrong to vote for an option that gives your school a better chance to win championships and make deep playoff runs? No, but it does change the perception of the LHSAA.
There are a couple of myths to dispel. One is that this would be a split for all sports. The other is that widening the split to include baseball, softball and basketball will “level the playing field.”
This is NOT a split for all sports. One coach questioned why track isn’t part of the split last week. Volleyball, swimming, cross country and soccer aren’t included either.
Does a level playing field exist? I don’t think so. But that won’t stop the quest to find it. My hope is that it doesn’t blow up more than 90 years of tradition. That would be a shame.