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Vote today could finally level public vs. private school sports
But Terry Pluto says 'competitive balance' isn't an easy, or necessarily preferred, solution

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
For the third spring in a row, the OHSAA is proposing a "competitive balance." If passed, a school's division placement would be based on the number of players that reside outside of the district.
Courtesy of Amanda Rabinowitz
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In The Region:
For years, the Ohio High School Athletic Association has been trying to figure out how to level the playing field for high school sports. About 17 percent of the the association's 800-plus members are private schools, and they have won more than 40 percent of the state titles in recent years.

Public schools say private schools have an unfair advantage because they can draw talent from several communities. A vote ending today aims to strike a so-called competitive balance. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says the proposal is complicated, and even if it passes, will only help the situation slightly. 

Listen: Terry Pluto commentary on OHSAA referendum

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UPDATE: May 16, 2013: 

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has once again voted against a plan to try to diminish the advantage private schools have in the state’s athletic playoffs. The so-called “competitive balance” proposal lost by 19 out of the nearly 640 votes cast by high school principals this week. That vote was a shade closer than earlier proposals that lost in 2011 and 2012.

An element of each proposal is some kind of formula that would account for the ability of private schools to draw athletes and other students from a broader area than most public high schools can. If schools draw too many students from outside their area, they would be forced to compete against bigger schools.


Original commentary:

The debate on the equality of sports divisions between Ohio’s public and private high schools continues as the vote on another referendum by the Ohio High School Athletic Association ends today.  

OHSAA’s newest referendum mandates creating divisions based on not only a school’s enrollment, but also on the number of students on a team’s roster from outside of the district.  WKSU’s sports commentator Terry Pluto says that’s a problem.

“Private schools are different than public schools,” Pluto says. “Private schools will always have more resources and things like that because they have alumni. They’re almost like mini colleges.”

With more “resources,” private schools are able to attract a range of students outside of their district, and Pluto says this is not necessarily true for public schools.

Inherently unequal
“You have an unlevel playing field, and [OHSAA is] trying to level it out,” Pluto says, “but it’s like you’re trying to level out two systems that are totally different.”

If the referendum passes, schools in smaller divisions have the ability to move into higher divisions, but they can only go so high.

“St. Ignatius and St. Edward are already in Division 1, so where are you going to push them up to?” Pluto asks. “I guess you could create a new super division of schools, but it never ends.”

Though uncertain of whether or not the referendum will pass, Pluto says Ohioans may be ready for a change in the playoff system.

Listen: Terry Pluto assesses whether the Indians can be contenders in 2013
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Related Links & Resources
Pluto: OHSAA's competitive balance plan can make a bad situation a little better

Related WKSU Stories

Leveling the field between private and public school sports
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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