Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I’m going in a little different direction tonight.  It’s not political as such but it does deal with the democratic process.
Recently the Illinois High School Association decided that some major high school sports including basketball will be divided into four classes based upon the population of the schools rather than the current two classes.  


Every article that I recall from the sports writers at the Peoria Journal Star was opposed to it.  The editorial writers were opposed to it.  Personally, it makes no difference to me even though I do attend Morton’s girls’ basketball and softball games.  I do have some concerns about the logic behind the negative comments though.


One major argument against the change was that a majority of the high schools did not support the change in an advisory referendum.  That is true according to the newspaper articles.  But, it is also true that a 60+ percent majority of those schools who bothered to vote did vote for the change.  How is it the fault of the IHSA that many school districts decided, for whatever reason, not to vote?  According to the criticism, it seems that if only 50 percent of the membership bothers to vote then it should be impossible to approve any change because a majority of schools did not support it.  In political science terms that is a requirement of an absolute majority—50+ percent of the total voters who could have voted regardless of the number of actual voters.  That procedure is not required in the vast majority of votes in this country.  Yet, they expect it to be the requirement in this instance.  Again, why is it the fault of the organization if the membership does not vote?


The following quote is from a negative article published on January 16, 2006, page D3.  “The IHSA has finally caved in to the feel-good craze.  Every child is a winner in this day and age.  There are no losers.”  First, let me say that I disagree with the philosophy and practice that everyone should “be a winner” and that unearned praise should be heaped upon students.  However, let me also say—are these critics serious?  Do they really expect us to believe that is happening?  The proposal is to go from two classes to four classes.  It is not to go from two classes to three hundred classes.  Arizona has five classes in all sports (if I remember correctly, it is in all sports) and has had for years.  I would guess that Arizona probably has less than one fourth of the schools in the state in comparison to the number of Illinois schools.  There is no way that this proposal mandates that “Every child is a winner….  There are no losers.”


When I was a member of a school board in Arizona, high school girls’ basketball was played in the spring and girls’ softball was played in the winter.  The boys, of course, played the tradition winter basketball and spring baseball.  I was one of the first school board members in the state to push for a change so that the girls would also play during the traditional season.  Contrary to my better judgment, our School Superintendent urged me to meet with and talk to the athletic directors of the conference schools.  Everyone who spoke at that meeting (as I expected) was opposed to the change and claimed that it would be catastrophic for the athletic programs.  The change happened.  The catastrophe did not.  


Instead of complaining, why not give it a chance.  Better yet, why not come up with some creative ways to make the system better.  For example, after the champions are determined in the four classes have a tournament the next week for charity with the class A champion playing the class AA champion and the class AAA champion playing the class AAAA champion.  The next night, the winners of the first two games would play each other and the losers would play each other.  They would have two more games, they would have some idea of how they would have competed again the other classes, and money could be raised for a good cause.  This is just a starting point suggestion.  Be creative.  Do some good instead of just complaining.  Just a suggestion!  


The world will not change for the worse because of this change—I guarantee it!