Size does matter…but $$$$ matters more and should be a factor in school classifications

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) just completed its every-other-year mission of re-classifying schools based on their grade 10 – 12 enrollment. It has been doing this for quite some time…even when I was in high school and I’ve always been interested in the outcome. Probably because our school was always on the border between 2A and 3A…going to 3A meant more travel for our school and battling the heavyweights from the Everett and Seattle areas whereas staying down at 2A meant going up against schools from our county and the one just to the north of us.

Our high school, and town, was known as the “city slickers” of the county. We were the largest city and the county seat and families in our school tended to be a bit wealthier than in other schools. Didn’t mean much in football because the supposed “farm boy” schools would take extra motivation in beating us and we would get their best games.

Money didn’t mean a whole lot in those days simply because there weren’t really any club teams or camps to go to. Nowadays though, with all the camps, clinics and club teams out there families who can afford it can get their kids so many more repetitions and game action and as a result will make them a better player. This is almost more of an advantage than size of the school in my opinion, and why income-per-household of homes within the district should be figured in as well when it comes to school classifications.

Need proof? Open up the paper and look at the standings in any sport. You’ll see the schools with arguably more affluent students at the top and those who aren’t quite as wealthy at the bottom. If we truly are trying to make things “fair” you’ve got to weigh in this variable. Further, if and when it makes sense let’s put the private schools who can recruit kids in one side of the equation and put the public schools in the other.

How can you go about this? Easy…simply take the figures everyone submits for tax purposes and give it a number value. Then, the enrollment of a school using grades 9 – 12 (students in grades 9 to 12 are eligible to play at the varsity level so they should be figured into the equation) is also given a number value. Add those up and then group folks together and you’ve got new classifications based on not only public/private schools but also income of the district.

Ah, I can hear the howling now…you’re being prejudiced against rich (or not-so-rich) families!!!! You’re slamming the private schools!!!! And why does everything always have to be fair…hey…last I checked Mr. Blogger-who-thinks-he-knows-everything life isn’t fair and it’s your fault you win or lose.

Those are all very good points. But I’m going to draw up a situation for you….player on offense is getting ready to go up against a defender. The player on offense can not only make it to every practice and game but also has extra practices and plays extra games on his/her club team AND attended a couple of camps in the summer. The defensive player is lucky to make it to all the practices and games and club teams/camps are pretty much out of the question because they are working to help support their family and/or watching their siblings while Mom and Dad are at work on the evenings and weekends to make extra cash. Who do you think is going to win this matchup???

This is not about making things totally fair here….where I sit from the cheap seats doing this is a win-in – not only would you level the playing field because when athletes improve when they go up against kids at their ability or a little bit better but the product as a whole would be better. No more running clock football games…40-point blowouts in basketball or 20-1 beat-downs in baseball. And when the product is better…everyone wins.


Paul Williams

I am a sports nut who has tried to make the transition from athlete to athletic....err....supporter of my two children and their athletic endeavours. I am also a former sports reporter for The Arlington Times, Marysville Globe, The Skagit Argus and The Coeur d'Alene Press. Follow me on Facebook or on Twitter (@PDub4170).

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