Several months ago, I weighed in on this blog with my take on the at-times testy topic of whether or not Pennsylvania should consider separate state championships for public and private high schools.
My opinion was pretty simple: It's a bad idea.
So why bring this up again? Yesterday, former Patriot-News sports writer Rod Frisco posted this link on his website. It's a story from the Marion Star, which states the Ohio High School Athletic Association is considering separate state championships for public and private schools.
The treads to this debate are well-worn, but let's summarize real quick. The argument goes something like this: Private schools have an advantage in athletics, in that they are not limited to a defined area by which to draw their students from. PIAA numbers show that since 1972 when they began competing in state competitions, private schools have won 26 percent of state titles, despite accounting for about 15 percent of Pennsylvania high schools. The private-school advantage is most acute in basketball, and two of the most obvious beneficiaries in that sport -- York Catholic and Delone Catholic -- happen to reside in this area. The Fighting Irish girls' hoops team has been to five straight Class AA state title games.
But does Pennsylvania need separate state championships? Rod argues that going down that road would be excessive. I couldn't agree more.
As I have argued in the past, having separate public and private state tournaments would only devalue what it means to be a PIAA champion. A state title is supposed to be the crowning achievement for a scholastic sports team, the mountain that only a select few can scale.
But at what point, if you continue to divide up teams and add classifications, does becoming a state champion start to not mean as much?
Not to mention I'm also of the opinion that the whole private vs. public factor adds a bit of intrigue to the state playoffs. One of the most memorable games I got to cover last year was the PIAA Class AAA boys' basketball semifinal between Eastern York and Neumann Goretti. Each was without question one of the top teams in the state, regardless of classification. Separate the public and private schools, and you risk missing out on matchups like that one.
In any event, I highly recommend giving Rod's post a read if you have time -- he includes some interesting numbers and provides a typically well-informed take on the subject.