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The Press Box For April 11

By Staff | Apr 11, 2018

Weather has played havoc on spring sports for most of the season so far. Hopefully things will get back to normal, and the ball teams will get caught up on some canceled games. I am really glad to see some different kids out for track this year. With all the baseball and softball cancellations, some of the ball players have joined up with the track teams and have made an impact .

There has been plenty of talk around the state and on social media about Class A sports in W.Va. I’m not sure there is a real answer as long as private schools are allowed to compete against public schools in the WVSSAC, regardless of what Class they are placed in.

I’ve written two different articles on the subject in the past two years. I like competition, but I also like fair competition. To me, there is only one real solution to the problem; that is to give all private schools their own state tournaments. Separate the two!

I believe there are some ways to even the playing field, but moving private schools to larger classes is not one of them. That would only open them up to higher enrollment and a larger recruiting field.

I am all for finding a solution to what is a real problem, but I am not for putting a bandaid on the wound. It is not going to be an easy fix, outside of prohibiting them membership in the WVSSAC.

That, however, would only prevent public against private. It would not be a complete solution. Public versus private is not the only problem! Even in small communities and rural areas, there still exists an unfair advantage for some schools.

Just as an example: This year the little town of Hundred, a town that struggles to field a team, had two of its girls go to neighboring Class AA North Marion High School and play basketball. The North Marion girls basketball team won the state championship.

Every year, kids from Paden City attend Tyler Consolidated and play on their athletic teams. Sometimes its vice versa. There have also been times when Paden City and New Martinsville have had kids attend each other’s schools. I remember times when schools would get some pretty good foreign exchange students as well.

This is a huge task to overcome; the first thing to accomplish is to get the support from the WVSSAC. All the support and pressure will not mean a thing without their backing. Then there will be laws that must be changed, and believe me, you will have your work cut out for you there.

How much support and backing will it take, and how much money will it require? How many Class AA/AAA schools will support the change? Especially if it sends the private schools in their direction. It’s almost like trying to fight city hall. You’ll hear the same old excuses as always; you’ll hear, “We’ll look into it.”

Politicians that really support you will come from the rural smaller areas, and they will run up against a brick wall.

The easiest fix to the problem, for the short term, is for athletic directors to refuse to schedule the private schools. Make them hunt for teams to play out of their comfort zone. Make them play larger schools where they won’t win as many games. Make them play out-of-state schools. Could be they won’t get the points they need to make the playoffs. Of course this will only work in football, but it’s a start.

The other fix could be a four class system. I believe it’s needed regardless; teams from schools with 800-900 students should not have to play against schools with 2000 students for state championships. Schools with under 150 students should not have to compete against schools with nearly 500 students.

I support change. I think it’s needed and the right thing to do; however, public is public, and private is private. They are different, so keep it that way in sports.

I also support the WSSAC, the OVAC, and all other conferences in the state, but when they get in the way of treating the state’s athletes fairly, it is time for change. Another change that needs to happen occurs in a few of the other sports. When cross country runners have to compete against higher-class schools, while jockeying for team opportunities at the state meet, it is totally unfair. The same thing occurs in wrestling. Having enough wrestlers to field a team is often hard enough, but to then try and make it to the state – where you have to compete against Class AA opponents – is out of line. Class A and AA being forced into the same tournament, with playoff ramifications on the line, cannot happen. Just getting out of the regionals is tough enough; however, let’s look over the rules. See how they affect the kids, and make the necessary adjustments. Be a fair and just governing body for W.Va. high school athletics. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com.