When it comes to high school sports these days we’re increasingly in an era of “haves and have-nots.” Many states have open enrollment, allowing athletes to transfer to sports powerhouses without penalty. Both public and private schools are being accused of illegal recruiting across the nation. Economic disparity and other factors have resulted in some schools having sophisticated feeder programs while others struggle to get enough kids out to field varsity and junior varsity teams. As a result, competitive imbalance has become a major problem in high school sports.

Traditionally, high school sports divisions have been based on school enrollment. Schools with similar enrollments compete against each other. However, due to a variety of factors, including those cited above, enrollment numbers no longer are enough to determine fair competitive divisions in high school sports. What’s needed is a power ranking system that would allow teams ranked in the bottom of a division for a set period, say three years, to move down a division if they so choose.

Learning how to lose and face adversity is one of the lessons athletics can provide. But getting trampled in virtually every game you play during a season isn’t positive on any level. It’s even worse when a team loses 90 percent of its games over a three-to-five-year period. Perpetual losing leads to unnecessary frustration on the part of everyone involved and a depressing environment that permeates the school and local community.

So, how would this proposed new system work exactly? As an example, if a school finishes in the bottom five of the power rankings (based on win-loss records, margin of victory/defeat, strength of schedule, etc.) within their division for three consecutive seasons, they would be given the option to drop down a division for the following season.

The essence of athletic competition is fair play and testing yourself against those with similar abilities. This proposal would bring us closer to those ideals.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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