Louisiana high school football is one very big step closer to having separate football championships for public and private schools this year.
A source told me that House Bill 267 will be deferred in the education committee. The bill says schools can't belong to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association if that organization discriminates in athletic contests by school enrollment criteria. But it simply does not have the votes to pass, said the source.
So, one of two things remain to kill the LHSAA's Proposal 18 for the coming football season.
One, the LHSAA's executive committee could nix it at its meeting in early June.
Or legal action by one or several of the private schools could halt the proceedings.
Both seem unlikely.
Last week, the association's school relations committee made two recommendations to the executive committee. The first was that the select school championships be expanded from two classes to five. Why? Simple. It is to head off a pair of legal dilemmas. By providing the private schools with equal numbers of classes (and therefore championships) as their public counterparts, the LHSAA can argue that it is providing the same opportunity for all.
Plus, by adding brackets, a smaller 3A school like St. Charles Catholic doesn't play in the same playoff bracket with 5A Archbishop Rummel. The LHSAA knows it would be exposed to a potential lawsuit if an athlete from a 3A school would suffer injury in a playoff game against a school with a much larger enrollment.
In the meantime, the school relations committee has said that several concepts will be formulated for the 2014 annual meeting in January. Among those are a "playoff success" factor, cutting football from five classes to four divisions and securing necessary funding for a private investigator when schools are suspected of potential violations (specifically, recruiting-related).
The playoff success factor could work several ways. If a school reaches the championship game in its classification in consecutive years, it could be bumped up to the next highest class in football only. This is a rule that would clearly affect John Curtis and Evangel. By the way, that duo is what the "split" is all about.
What the split is all about in 2013 is turning the playoffs into a sham.
Don't think so?
In the 5A, the "select" schools playoffs will have just 10 teams compete for a "state" championship. Those schools would be St Paul's, Catholic of Baton Rouge, C.E. Byrd, Scotlandville Magnet, and the 6 schools that will comprise the newly-reformed Catholic League in metro New Orleans.
The 4A "select" playoffs will also have just 10 teams. Class 3A will be 14, Class 2A will have 18, and 1A will be 30.
How will this all work? I asked LHSAA executive director Kenny Henderson.
"I am not sure," said Henderson.
Last week, a football coach who recently won a state championship told me the following. "I am glad I won it before all this stuff," said the coach. "It is still special."
The 2013 playoffs will not be.
Right now, the adults who keep fiddling with the rules for kids' games are saying if we don't get it right, we will be the first to admit and change it.
Some will find that admirable.
But, what about the children who are seniors in the fall of 2013? No matter what anyone says, the kids on Class-winning teams will not truly be state champions. They will be public school or select schools champions of a mini-tournament.
Call it what you want.
I will call it a sham.
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