School size not the problem in public versus private debate

Anybody who sat through the Windham vs. Villa Angela-St. Joseph Division IV regional semifinal on Tuesday can say the division system in Ohio is broken.

The game was a farce right from the start. It had nothing to do with Windham, which would have gone toe-to-toe with either Hannibal River or Youngstown Christian that played in the other regional semifinal. No, the problem was VA-SJ.

The Vikings had no business playing against the smallest schools in the entire state. They recruited and brought in players from Division I schools, and it showed on the court. Windham never stood a chance.

Why was VA-SJ playing in Division IV? Well, that’s because of school size.

According to the OHSAA, the maximum number of male students allowed for a Division IV school is 122, and according to the OHSAA web site, 105 boys are enrolled at VA-SJ. Just for comparison’s sake, Windham has 81 male students – not that large of a difference.

The difference on the court was another matter entirely. Windham went down by 17 points after one quarter.

This brings us to the referendum concerning the separation of private and public schools. Member schools of the OHSAA will vote on that come May, and although I do not agree with complete separation, something needs to be done about some private schools.

Take VA-SJ for example. When the Vikings won their first state basketball title in 1991, they won it as a Division I school, and the following three titles in 1992, 1994 and 1995 came as a member of Division II. Even when the school collected a state runner-up trophy in 2006, it did so as a Division III school.

To drop from the highest division to the lowest division in a span of 20-plus years is a bit ridiculous.

If you need an example closer to home, the Ursuline football team controlled Division V from 2008-2010 by winning three consecutive state titles.

Domination is the key word in this argument. Private schools can recruit public schools’ best talent and bully the public schools in the postseason tournaments. Understandably, the public schools are just a tiny bit upset about it.

Still, not all the private schools dominate their respective divisions and in fact, are probably in the right fit. John F. Kennedy is a prime example. JFK doesn’t own a single division hostage in any sport and yet still competes quite well.

Thus, separating the private schools and putting them into a different division isn’t the answer. Instead, there should be another factor involved in deciding the division of private schools: competitiveness.

If a school dominates a division over a certain amount of time, promote it up a division. If it struggles, relegate it to a lower division. It’s a simple process. This will help avoid such things as a team full of Division I athletes running away with the Division IV state crown by ridiculing solid Division IV basketball teams.