Class warfare ends (hopefully); sort out success
Eleven town hall meetings took place across the state of Indiana to debate, plead and voice public opinions on a prep sports topic that won’t fade away: returning to class basketball.
At the end of May, after visiting schools and hearing public opinion, 68 percent of 514 votes cast favored the return to the single-class system that was last fielded in 1997.
The 514 is a small sample size, made up only of people who attended the town hall events. For further evaluation, the IHSAA surveyed principals, athletic directors, basketball coaches and varsity players about whether they prefer class or no class. The results were resoundingly opposite of those at the public forums. Overall, 71.6 percent favored multi-class. Athletic directors led the way at 79 percent, while 55 percent of basketball coaches favored keeping the current format.
The IHSAA could have saved the time, effort and money in surveying, because class is here to stay. Teams that have had recent success in class sports know how close they are to a championship; and if programs haven’t had success, why would they distance themselves more?
Let’s face it, seniors-to-be this coming season were mostly 3 years old the last time a one-class basketball tournament was played. They are more likely to recollect deep tournament runs by the local teams as members of the current class system.
Currently, the class system works. Chances are remotely slim a school the size of Lanesville, ranked 349 in school size in 2011 (242 students), could compete with the biggest school in the state, Ben Davis (4,892 students) on the court.
Success on the floor has presented the opportunity for Lanesville and South Central to make deep postseason runs in various sports. There would be no driving through Lanesville seeing a sign recognizing the 2007 regional boys’ basketball champions. Or South Central girls’ basketball’s 2006 semi-state championship.
Our small schools have succeeded with class in other sports as well in recent years with multiple sectional titles for Lanesville softball and South Central baseball.
Corydon Central and North Harrison have also hung banners in the 3A ranks. One could argue that, if all sports were classed accordingly, North Harrison could potentially have a cross country team state title with its recent accomplishments.
As the meaningless debate over class basketball attempts to rage on, the IHSAA dropped an announcement June 22 complicating class sports.
With reclassification coming after the 2012-13 season, a tournament success factor will be implemented, forcing successful programs to jump up a class.
Specific sports programs will make the jump if they accumulate six points on a grading scale (sectional championship, 1 point; regional championship, 2 points; semi-state championship, 3 points; and state championship, 4 points) in a two-year period.
This past year, Corydon Central football, North Harrison softball and South Central baseball won regional championships. If any respectively win a state title next season, they will be forced to jump a class starting with the 2013-14 season because they’d reach six points.
Coincidentally, the team Corydon Central lost to in football, Indianapolis Bishop Chatard, would move to Class 4A if it wins regional (the team has won 12 in a row) this coming fall. The same would happen to Lafayette Central Catholic, the winner of the Class A baseball state championship if it was to win regional (it’s won nine since 2002).
Once a team advances up a class, it will stay for two years and, depending on success (achieve four or more points in that span), it would stay or, if amass three or fewer points, drop back down for the next classification period.
Let’s call this for what it is: controlling the dominance of private schools. During the 2011-12 calendar year, private schools accounted for 14 state championships in class sports, compared to 15 won by public schools. Due to a greater number of public schools, it’s obvious the private schools are hoisting more banners percentage-wise.
The success factor is far better than giving private schools their own tournament. Giving credit where credit is due, the Indiana Football Coaches Association came up with the ground work for the success factor.
The move is a good one. It may get confusing with rivalries if a team is forced to move up. If, by some chance, North Harrison wins the state softball next year and is forced to move up to a tournament that didn’t include Corydon Central, Silver Creek, Salem and other familiar teams, it presents new challenges. Same with Corydon Central football (could face Evansville Reitz, Jasper or Boonville) or South Central baseball (lose playing Lanesville and pick up Providence, Pekin Eastern or go west and see South Spencer or Evansville Mater Dei).
In the end, it all depends on success. Win semi-state or state titles, then we can talk further.