Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SPORTS >> A right decision made by AAA on private schools

Leader sportswriter

Let’s see how this turns out. The Arkansas Activities Association is proposing a change in its current classifications to separate private schools from public schools in state tournament play in all sports starting this fall. This, after private schools Shiloh Christian Academy in Springdale and metro-area school Pulaski Academy ran away with state football titles back in December, and a host of private schools dominated their classifications in the spring sports that concluded last week.

But the privateers are unhappy.

“How will this prepare them for life?” one privateer protested. “The job market is not separated into those who went to public schools and those who went to private, so why do this now?”

The answer to that question is simple.

In the job market, you will not have a Shiloh Christian that unnecessarily makes 84 copies of a memo that was only supposed to be passed out to 14 people. In the job market, you will not have a Pulaski Academy that hires 10 more presidents and general managers to oversee operations than every other company in its field. In the job market, you will not have a firm that names its headquarters “Billionaire’s Stadium.”

And hopefully, when your kid enters adulthood and the job market, his or her boss will not be nearly as arrogant as Shiloh head football coach and athletic director Josh Floyd, who called off the dogs to the tune of an 84-14 win over Clarksville in the second round of the playoffs last November.

Yeah, if the proposal passes its scheduled August vote, most of us will shout “hooray!” because we might never have to witness the “Saints” plow another helpless county school on their way to their 55th straight state title, or whatever the count is up to now. Now their victims will be schools like Episcopal and Subiaco Academy.

It will also affect us here locally. Harding Academy, which is always competitive in all sports, but never what you would call dominant, would be subjected to this private school playoff system. When I ran my column last fall about the need for a private school league, I was inundated with e-mails, phone calls and face-to-face meetings with Wildcat parents and faculty, some of whom were upset that I mentioned their school in the same breath as Shiloh Christian and Pulaski Academy.

“We play by the rules, and we can’t control it if there are others who don’t and get by with it,” was the main protest lodged by the HA faithful. That was a valid point that I had not considered.

But the way I see it, schools like Harding Academy or Little Rock Catholic will have a lot more clout and will be listened to far more earnestly than a Clarksville or a Berryville when they begin to complain about the odds stacked in Shiloh Christian’s or Pulaski Academy’s favor.

We’ve been down that road one too many times.

We’ll just have to wait and see. But when the Bruins and Saints square off for the private league state football championship for the 17th consecutive year, the folks over on Richards Road in North Little Rock might finally perk up and say, “Hey, now wait just a minute here.”