Fambrough: Where does LHSAA go from here?

By Robin Fambrough

Advocate sportswriter

There are times I use this column to explain things or to tell a special story.

This week I have a confession to make. Writing a column about the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s recent summer meeting and all the factors that went into it has been frustrating.

In my own way, I feel a little like the combatants on either side of the LHSAA’s nonselect/select school issue. Neither side got exactly what it wanted. By the same token, it’s impossible for me to include everything I need to get into in this forum.

But the good news is some important decisions were made by the LHSAA executive committee.

The LHSAA finally has the format set for its first split football championships in December, and the dates and times for the nine title games were announced last week. Finally, we all have an idea of what is supposed to happen and when.

And that’s a start. The big question is where will the LHSAA and its schools go from here? Expect everyone around the state to debate that question as they follow the 2013 football regular season very closely.

We can also expect Louisiana to attract some national attention. It’s no secret other states are fighting their own versions of the high school sports civil war between private and public schools, all while the evolution of education continues with the growth of charter and magnet school options.

Whether you love it or hate it, the LHSAA executive committee stepped up the plate and came up with a plan that allows for four select school divisions for a group dominated by private schools to go along with the five championship classes for its nonselect or traditional public schools.

I applaud the efforts of the executive committee and the school relations committee to make this happen. The school relations committee, made up of nonselect- and select-school representatives, came up with some solid recommendations aimed at keeping the LHSAA member schools from voting to split all sports.

The executive committee took its time and contacted schools involved in the select school decisions before voting. The bad news for those schools was they weren’t going to get what they wanted — the system going back to the way it was with private and public schools competing against each for state titles.

Well, as it turns out, some people on the other side of the fence are just as unhappy. I had one caller express outrage over the fact that all select schools will make the playoffs in the plan that was approved.

It all comes down to the math. There are 219 nonselect schools and 72 select schools. With all but a few charter schools taken out of the mix, there are fewer select schools than originally thought when the split plan was approved in January. And it means there are more nonselect schools.

Back to the original question — where does the LHSAA go from here?

To court? The chance for someone to file suit on behalf of one or more select schools exists and may loom larger than ever.

Or back to work? Fences need to be mended and solutions found to rectify the select/nonselect issues if the LHSAA is to continue to be a unified group that features public and private schools.

How about going to a game? Strange as it may seem, this may be the best option. It’s definitely the least complicated.