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Open letter to Kansas legislators: How much more evidence do you need to fix KSHSAA? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 20 November 2017 07:05

By EARL WATT

• Leader & Times

Dear Representatives of the People of Kansas:

Last year, you came close to passing legislation to fix a grave injustice in Kansas — the imbalance between schools that must allow every student that walks into their school attend competing against schools that do not.

This refers to the lack of consideration given to the differences between public and private schools and how they are classified in what are supposed to be even and fair divisions that allow for positive and beneficial competitive experiences.

We all know this is not happening, and yet the Kansas State High School Activities Association has said they cannot address this issue without legislative involvement to change how classifications are determined.

If you were not sure before that there is an imbalance, this fall season should provide you all the evidence you need, and Class 5A is the poster child for this inequity.

There were seven sports this fall, and looking at the distribution of state championships among these 32 schools provides the ongoing injustice.

In girl’s golf, the state champion team was St. Thomas Aquinas, a private school in the urban Kansas City area.

In boys cross country, the state champion was St. Thomas Aquinas.alt

In girls cross country, the state champion was St. James Academy, a private school in an urban Kansas City area.

In girls tennis, St. James Academy was the state champion. Coincidentally, private Wichita schools Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel finished second and third.

In volleyball, the state champion was St. James Academy, and the runner-up was St. Thomas Aquinas.

Only in soccer did a public school win a title, but the other three teams in the final four were private schools Kapaun, Carroll and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Friday night’s semifinals in football guaranteed that a private school will in the championship with the state match-up between Carroll and St. Thomas Aquinas.

So, out of seven fall sports, six of them were won by private schools, and in several cases, the competition for the state title came down to one private school vs. another.

If St. Thomas Aquinas were to defeat Carroll for the football title, that would mean six titles were won by only two of the 32 schools competing in Class 5A.

How can 6 percent of the schools in a class win 86 percent of the championships? The answer is simple — the system that determines classification is failing for 87 percent of the schools in 5A.

It is not unusual for a school to dominate a sport for a given period of time, either with excellent coaching or a special group of athletes.

It is statistically impossible for a small sampling of schools to dominate in all sports that require very different skill sets using a wide variety of athletes that must be pulled from the student bodies that attend those schools, and to have the best athletes in the state in every sport throughout the entire season all year long every year, year in, year out.

The evidence is overwhelming that student count alone does not create a balanced playing field, and without that, the classification system does not adequately serve the people of Kansas.

This is not an attack on success, but any success should be based on fairness. When one school cannot pick its student body and competes against another school that can, it must be a consideration when determining how schools are classified.

I implore you as the elected representatives of the people to correct this injustice so that all student athletes in Kansas can believe that the road to success is not tilted in favor of a select few, and that no matter how hard you work, the rules are not designed to prevent you from having a chance as they do now.

I do not make this case for any one school but for every Kansas student athlete, even those that attend private schools. Championships should be won on an even playing field, and student selection vs. district enrollment is not an even playing field.

If we all want championships to matter, make it possible for classifications to be determined with more criteria than simple student count alone.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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