MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

January 16, 2014

Slow down, ease up on the water

Maybe, just maybe, a timeout will do everybody some good.

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s decision on Wednesday at its board of directors meeting to table a proposal to spread the split of Class 6A from football to all sports avoids what could be a hasty decision.

Be careful what you ask for. Football, having already approved the split, was to drive that vehicle for the first time in 2014. Might it have been wise to see how that actually goes before expanding?

I have no argument for those who claim the range of enrollments are disproportionately unfair, but the way football went down essentially dents but doesn’t destroy the problem.

Even by splitting, it remains a closer range between the lowest 5A team in the current ADMs, Bishop McGuinness (677) and the highest, Del City (1,241), than there is between Putnam City, the lowest of the 6A Division Is, than the second-highest 6A enrollment in Union (4,680), so even with a split.

And again, Broken Arrow has zero state football titles, two basketball (1997 boys, 1983 girls), one volleyball (1993) and 11 fastpitch titles.

Are we blaming this on fastpitch?

If enrollment numbers are a measure for fairness, someone should have stepped forward a decade or more ago with a ruling that requires school districts to build additional schools past a certain enrollment figure. Problem is, that would have had to come from the state legislature, not OSSAA, which only governs sports.

Board member Bill Seitter of Watonga hit it dead on Wednesday when he looked into the semi-open can of worms which shows that it’s only a matter of time until the 3A, 2A or 1A coaches or athletic directors start talking about the inequality of their classes. He can start with the emerging playoff roads in football — five games to 6A’s three.

So split all classifications down the middle?

Add it all up. From 6A to C, that’s eight classifications, one less for basketball, baseball and softball. Times two, that would bring us to 14 or 16 state champions.  I’ll throw the Texas comparison out — six divisions of football, two state champions. But most of those classes have 32 districts, not teams.

Are participation trophies next?

I’m a believer that education should be achievement-driven and achievement- earned. Same for athletics. There’s winners, and there’s losers. That’s life. A No. 10-ranked team in a 16-team class may not qualify as a loser, but mediocre, middle-of-the-field? Absolutely.

And is that a fair assessment? Absolutely.

There’s a leveling of the playing field and there’s a soaking of the playing field. This is more of the latter.

Splitting 6A football;; was fine, but the OSSAA didn’t go far enough in the right direction, which was to take 5A and 4A, combine with the lower 16 of 6A, and come up with two classes instead of three with eight districts in each. Add the top 16 of 3A into that mix and across the board, you’re looking at six and seven team districts down to Class A, and a five-round playoff march. That’s one more week for 4A and the new 5A, which of course, would include Muskogee.

Strive to be the best. Don’t tweak the field until you get a state championship that’s closer to a participation trophy.

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