Tournament Classification – Part 2
Blog: From the Director
Posted Friday, July 16, 2010

Just as discrimination on the basis of some profile – whether it’s the race of mortgage applicants or the religion of airline passengers – is anathema to our basic values as a nation, discrimination in MHSAA tournaments on the basis of schools’ legal status offends our basic and best instincts in the meritocracy of competitive athletics.

I don’t think it’s fair or beneficial to put all nonpublic schools in separate tournaments or place them in higher classifications of combined tournaments.  How can it be right to target nonpublic schools that in some cases provide financial aid to some students when all public schools provide a free education to all students?  How can it be right to target unbounded nonpublic schools when most public schools today enroll students from outside their traditional boundaries? 

I do think it’s more fair – I’m not yet sure it’s practical – to lower the enrollments of schools for athletic classification purposes on the basis of special populations they educate which tend to lower participation rates within a school – like special education students, migrant students, students on free or reduced lunch, and students whose religious practices prohibit participation.  In other words, I’m open-minded to exploration of a more “modern” system that would classify schools by potential participation and not purely by enrollment.

Implementing this new approach has at least two significant practical problems.  First, it will not be easy to gain consensus on all the factors that depress participation.  This process will take data and discussion, even debate, before a good recommendation can be presented to the Representative Council.

Second, it will not be easy for schools to do the count.  Schools already struggle with details and timelines of the current process that could not be more straightforward:  “count all but overage students.”  If now there are multiple categories of students and some mathematical formulas to apply, more mistakes and delays could follow.

What is “best” in matters such as this is not just what is most fair but also what is reasonably workable to administer, somewhere between overly simplistic and onerously complicated.


# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 7:20 PM
Has the Association even considered working off of a Fall count, instead of the February count? That would make classifications match this year's enrollment, instead of last year's.

I know it's not along the lines of what you're talking about here, but like you say here, some of these reforms would be hard to do. I'm just nibbling at the edges.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 7:21 PM
I think it is possible to have a public and private Tournament. The extra cost Awards/Trophies. It will work becuase other states are making it work and all someone has to do is get two or three models and pick out what they want to use. One state is Maryland. I am well aware that this association does not want to budge on the issue of the private schools attracting the above average athlete with some sort of tuition assistance. It really puts them at an advantage when you can bring in 6-7 solid baseball players (just an example) and add them to a handful of other talented players that parents could afford to send there child to private school. This sure leaves you with a team getting a shot at a District, or Regional run every year. I say this is not fair to the public school systems who can't offer a player anything to come into that school district. Unless you do school of choice. But, money was not directly exchange for that individuals education in my opinion. So, all the Private School elite running our Association keep the advantage Private.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 7:22 PM
"I say this is not fair to the public school systems who can't offer a player anything to come into that school district."

How about a tuition-free education? That sounds like a pretty good offer to me.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 7:23 PM
Tuition free education! Education is the word here. Not bringing in athletes under the false Academic Scholarships! It is a ancient practice of private schools. The debate and denial of this issue will never be resolved. it is endless and until the academic scholarships and tuition assistance are forbidden by the MHSAA then the playing field will never be fair. It will always by private one up on public.
Friday, December 30, 2011 7:24 PM
I have to admit some ignorance when it comes to the current practice of determining how a particular school is classified into a particular division. I know the basic method is by enrollment. Is that the only factor considered at the moment? Aside from excommunicating all the private schools from the MHSAA or arranging their own tournament, which the MHSAA seems completely against, perhaps allow the schools to apply to a higher classification. It seems to me the biggest issues are the Class D or Division 7/8 schools competing against private schools power-houses. Let the schools apply to a higher division. Another option for the schools that refuse to apply for higher classification is to manually review their record in the past 5 years compared to the records of others in their division. That manual option doesn’t sound too practical, however. Again, I’m not up-to-date on the “who’s-who” or “who we’re really talking about (without really mentioning them)”, but just from what I can remember when I was in high school, it seems to be more of the private schools classified in Class D. I don’t know that I have the solution, but maybe just an idea that someone else can piggyback off of and then eventually a solution will be developed.

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