I’m probably the only person who can see any correlation between the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s split football playoffs and the unseasonably cold weather at its state track meets.
The first shows the force of wills and the other the power of Mother Nature.
Where does the LHSAA go from here?
There’s an easy answer for the second item. Get some coffee or hot chocolate and come in from the cold. The first item remains a work in progress.
The LHSAA dodged one major challenge last week when the State Legislature shelved, at least for now, a bill that would prohibit public schools from belonging to an organization that discriminates against schools based on their enrollment policies.
Enrollment policies and what separates nonselect (traditional public schools) from select schools (private, magnet, some charter schools, laboratory and dual curriculum schools) in the football playoff plan passed by a wide margin by LHSAA principals at its convention in January.
Give credit to legislators for giving LHSAA schools a chance to work things out. I have to give the LHSAA’s school relations committee high marks for its work to bridge the gap between the select/nonselect groups at its recent meeting.
I also have to point out some of the recommendations the LHSAA committee made are not new. Some of the 11 bullet points have been suggested by the panel before, but never made it on the convention agenda by the LHSAA’s executive committee. Others, such as the hiring of a private investigator, were done in the late 1990s when the first split proposal was made.
Of course, the notion of recruiting isn’t new, either. It’s existed in some form for decades.
In my research for a story about Istrouma High’s last state football championship team in 1963, former players talked openly about the fact that some teammates came across school district lines and even from Mississippi.
There is plenty of work ahead as the LHSAA prepares for this football playoff split. The next step for the LHSAA is its annual summer meeting set to begin June 5. At that time, the LHSAA executive committee could adopt some of the school relations committeee’s suggestions and put others on the agenda for a membership vote in January.
Logistics will be very important. The SRC suggested charter schools with open enrollment be deemed nonselect. The LHSAA staff and executive committee must sift through each charter of these schools to determine where those schools fall.
Other suggestions include five football championship classes for both select and nonselect schools to be played at New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome in December. Coming up with enough days on the dome’s schedule could be tough.
Then there’s playoff logistics. Several select divisions and the 1A nonselect division won’t have enough teams to fill out a 32-team bracket. Can we say playoff byes?
The possibility of legal challenges to the split plan also exist. Would those choosing to file suit do it before the season or perhaps before the playoffs begin?
For me, the biggest issue moving forward won’t be latitude needed to make decisions. It will be the attitude of the schools moving forward. What many of us saw as a festering issue has created a divide between public and private schools that is perhaps wider than ever.
Having two of the key protagonists in this — Winnfield High and John Curtis Christian — meet at the state softball tourney with fans wearing T-shirts that said either “Public School Proud” or “Private School Proud” doesn’t help.
I used to think the diversity of its schools was one of the things that made the LHSAA great. Now I’m not sure what to think.
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