OPINION: Private schools should compete in their own divisions

By Rachel Balsamo

Have you ever thought about why so many private schools are beating public schools in sports and going on to win the championship game? Three private schools in Georgia alone, The Valwood Valiants, Open Bible Warriors, and Georgia Christian Generals have made up 100 championships in their histories. Loyola High School in Wilmette Illinois has a long line of athletic success as well, along with Montini High School in Lombard Illinois.

Private schools, that can take athletes from anywhere, are playing against public schools, whose athletes only come from one district in the area. Many states have already given this serious thought when private schools have won much more championships than public schools.

A survey was taken in Pennsylvania that showed “A recent survey conducted by District 7’s Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL)” says USA Today. “Revealed that 86 percent of coaches there want to divide the playoff system for public and private teams.”

People now think that private schools are only winning because they throw money at the best athletes from different areas to have them be recruited to play for them. Teams and athletic professionals

The Batavia Bulldogs football team recently lost to Nazareth Academy, a private school in LaGrange Park, in the semifinals. Nazareth later won against Saint Charles in the championship game, 31-10, Nazareth’s’ fourth championship title in football.

“I feel like if we have a good enough program we should be able to beat anybody that we go against in the state of Illinois if our kids work hard enough and put the time in. But it’s the system that’s there and if enough people think that it’s unfair then we’ll eventually get a new system.” Say Batavia football coach Dennis Piron. “We just have to be the best that we possibly can be.”

Although some private schools may not officially be recruiting players, people believe there are still unfair disadvantages to how they gain their athletes.

“It is a national issue. It has been discussed for not years, but decades, throughout the country,” said Robert Zayas, the executive director of the Public High School Athletic Association in a 2016 Times Union article.  “Winning (by private schools) prompts the discussion.” Any form of recruiting in high school is against the Athletic Associations rules.

Results of a survey in the Erie-based District 10 in Pennsylvania were recently released. “Of 365 public school respondents (coaches and administrators),” USA Today states. “354 said they believe non-boundary schools own a competitive advantage; 338 were in favor of separate tournaments.”

For the first time, the Illinois High School Association is planning to remove private schools from state tournaments and create a separate class for them. This was brought up on November 4th, 2018 by Principle Mark A. Mills from Coal City in Southwest Chicago. This was created to give public schools “what they deserve”. The petition says that private schools would have their own postseason tournament to give the public schools a better chance of winning state championships. Private schools would still be able to play public teams throughout the season and have their conferences stay similar to before.

Even though public schools may win against private schools in some other sports, the level of competition and talent that they bring to the bigger sports are not even or fair. We should do something to level the playing field, not just in Illinois but in the entire country, to make it a fair competition.

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