Public Schools v.s. Private School Sports

If you follow high school sports at all, you probably know that there is a large difference between public schools and private schools. Due to different rules regarding recruiting, private schools dominate many high school sports and repeatedly win state championship after state championship.

However, you might be surprised to know that of all state championships won in basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, baseball, or softball in the last 15 years, private schools have won 44% of them, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Wait, only 44%? That’s less than half, right? Yes, it is, but if this number seems low to you, think again.

This number is actually quite astonishing, considering private schools only account for about 17% of schools in the OHSAA.

A more recent statistic to show private schools’ disproportionate rate of competing for state titles is the fact that of the eight teams that made the Ohio state championship game in basketball this past year in the four divisions, six of them were private schools (75%).

Furthermore, three of the four state champions were private schools, with Massillon Jackson being the lone public school to come out victorious. However, even with Jackson, it came as a one-point upset win over undefeated and number one ranked team in the state, Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, a private school.

The reason for this dominance is that private schools, unlike public schools, can recruit, meaning they can handpick what players they want to pursue to play on their school’s sports teams. Public schools, on the other hand, cannot recruit, and only get players from one single district. If you think the cost of going to a private school would be a problem for many kids, this is incorrect, as they almost always find a way to make it possible for the kid to attend their school through scholarships.

The OHSAA already attempted to even the playing field back in May 2014 when they passed a competitive balance proposal that implemented a multiplier formula to determine the division for many private school teams. Although this had good intent, all it did was keep a school like Toledo Central Catholic, who just won a state championship in football in 2014 and has multiple high major college football players on their team, in Division III instead of falling to Division IV. This doesn’t really even the playing field; it just keeps the playing field from becoming more uneven in the lower divisions.

This is why I’m proposing the OHSAA should take this a step further and create a separate state playoffs for public schools and private schools.

Sure, public schools and private schools could still play during the regular season and be in the same leagues as one another. However, once the regular season ends, the two different types of schools should part ways into different tournaments with schools that are more like their own.

This idea is actually already in effect in some states, as Virginia, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland all have some form of separate playoffs for public and private schools. Other states, such as Michigan, have voting that takes place every year pertaining to the subject. It gains more and more support each year.

In addition, this proposal is not just “sour grapes”; it is a statistical fact that private schools have an inherent advantage over public schools in athletics, and many people, including myself, believe they should be separated for the state playoffs.

Matt Bishop, Sports Editor

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