Letter: Recruiting doesn’t make ‘select’ teams

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association recently voted to split football playoffs between “select” and “nonselect” schools. One of the more outspoken member-principals addressing the matter at their meeting was Winnfield Principal Jane Griffin, who complained about “select” schools dominating football because LHSAA fails to police “recruiting.”

The 2012-2013 LSU football roster suggests the “recruiting” argument is a fallacy. If the LHSAA majority’s accusation were correct, if the “select” schools were recruiting all of the state’s best athletes, one would see a plethora of Catholic and private school grads playing every week in top programs such as LSU’s.

However, on LSU’s roster of 90-odd student-athletes, there is only one John Curtis grad and only one Evangel grad. There is a total of maybe 22 players from faith-based and/or private schools. Of those, only about four or five saw any significant playing time this past season. The rest are essentially practice-squad kids, there for the love of the game. There must be another explanation for the “select” schools’ domination.

Griffin further lamented: “Things are not fair and equitable.”

Life is not fair and equitable. Griffin and the LHSAA will never change that. Some parents will do whatever it takes, make whatever sacrifices are necessary, to send their children to the best schools they can afford. Many parents will do only the minimum to get their kids to the most-convenient schools available.

I am a parent of two middle-school children, enrolled in a New Orleans Catholic school.

We forgo luxuries, skip vacation trips and drive 10-year-old cars, so we can provide this for our children. Both are honor students; both are avid athletes.

Thousands of like-minded parents, who sacrifice for their children’s education, also spend countless hours each week with their children at the playground or gym, for football, baseball, softball, soccer, basketball and volleyball practices and games. Many of us also sacrifice to afford our children the advantages club sports (“travel teams”) offer, beyond that offered by parish recreation departments.

Ours are not necessarily the best athletes in our communities. Very few will ever run through the tunnel at Tiger Stadium, even as “squad men.”

However, by the time they reach their “select” high schools, they will have developed skills necessary for competition, and they will be disciplined in a manner entirely foreign to the culture of “nonselect” schools.

Consequently, their “select” schools will continue to dominate, not because they are recruiting the best athletes, but because “select” school parents are the kind who enable their children to be the best they can be. And no action by the LHSAA can or will ever change that fact.

Michael L. Martin

lawyer

New Orleans