By Travis Stahl
For 15 years the battle over class basketball has been waged in Indiana. Should the state have one champion or multiple champions? Does the size of the schools playing each other really matter and if so how much? How about this for a question, who really cares about class sports? The answer should be very simple, the fans and the players. Administration doesn’t matter, law makers don’t matter and people who scream that there team deserves to be treated as equals don’t matter. The solution to the class sports problem is actually very easy to come up with. In the interest of fans, players, schools and coaches, do away with class sports … for everything.
Think about this for a second. If class sports were eliminated, what would the local sectional look like? It would probably consist of some combination of Columbia City, Whitko, Churubusco, Warsaw, Huntington, Manchester and Carroll. Can you honestly tell me that there is one of those schools that would dominate all the others in the majority of sports played? Absolutely not. That’s why these teams would be in a sectional together for every sport from football right on down the line to tennis and golf.
For those people in support of class sports open your minds up for a second and think in terms of football. The best team in a proposed sectional like this might be ‘Busco and it’s the smallest school there. Plus, think of the fan interest. More people are going to attend a tennis sectional with two “local” teams playing each other. That means more money for the schools. This sectional would also create more meaning among the athletes. Columbia City’s track teams would cherish a win over the teams in this sectional than they would over Oak Hill and Marion.
Having area teams compete against each other in sectionals would also cut down on the travel expense to the schools and fans. When the boys track sectional used to be at Oak Hill Churubusco athletes would pass Columbia City High School, Whitko High School, Manchester High School, Northfield High School, Wabash High School, Southwood High School and White’s just to get to Oak Hill for the meet. Does that make any sense at all? One year in basketball fans of Columbia City and Whitko nearly had the opportunity to see their teams play each other for the right to advance to the state finals. The game would have been played in Frankfurt. That’s dumb.
The mind set of those that created class sports was simple; make it so the small school doesn’t have to compete against the large school. Here is where that logic backfired. You take Churubusco out of a sectional with Columbia City because Columbia City has an enrollment of 1100 and ‘Busco is at 450 so there is a difference of 650 students. Instead, to be more “fair” Columbia City at 1100 students now has to compete with Lawrence North with 2900 students so there is a difference of 1800 students. Whoops, somebody flunked math class.
Class sports were an experiment that didn’t work, let’s fix it. There is not going to be any harm in attempting to correct the problem. Attendance will rise at sectional events across the state and transportation costs for schools and fans would drop. Not everybody is a winner so let’s eliminate a system that tries to make everybody happy. In life, not everybody wins so why does it need to be that way in Indiana high school athletics?