Plethora of plans, but nothing everyone can wrap their heart around
Just what reclassification for high school sports might look like starting in the 2014-15 school year is still very much up in the air.
There have been plenty of proposals, but there is not one that seems to have have grabbed everyone as fair and more balanced. Whatever is done, probably will be hated by as many as loved by others.
This all started not so long ago when the reclassification committee increased the classifications from four classes to six. It was not accepted well by some classes and resulted in some lawsuits.
The move to get almost everyone into a playoff (called play-in for the first round) has changed over time. There is now basically just one play-in round before the actual playoffs begin. The play-ins in some of the early cases resulted in some games no one really wanted to play and even fewer people wanted to watch. The number has been cut down to 24 teams for 5A and 4A and 32 for 6A. The 5A class uses the rankings (also new with the last reclassification) to determine automatic qualifiers and play-in opponents. The 4A uses a combination of league champions, second- and third-place finishers, plus those left in the rankings to determine those.
Currently, the top four classes are fairly evenly divided with near the same number of schools in each class. The 6A class has 43 (counting St. Marys), 5A has 39, 4A 42, and 3A 40.
The biggest school in the state, according to ADM (average daily membership for 2011-12) is David Douglas with 3,104 students. Smallest in 6A are the Central Catholic Rams with 822. Several such as Jesuit, Lake Oswego, and Lakeridge choose to play in 6A, rather than 5A.
In the 5A classification, the highest enrollment belongs to Willamette with 1,536. Sherwood is the biggest NWOC school with 1,436. Liberty has 1,362. At 1,020, St. Helens is near the bottom, but not the smallest in the conference. That belongs to Parkrose at 985. In the 4A ranks, Scappoose at 679 is closer to the top, just 13 spots below Central which has 844.
For St. Helens, its been tough since they moved up to 4A (then 5A) after 1999 to compete in several sports. They did win a state championship in track in 2007, but even when theyve made playoffs, they havent advanced very far.
Scappoose has had much better success lately and has some state hardware to show for it. (Baseball and cross country come to mind, and of course the three straight football titles.)
Weve heard so many plans in recent months, its hard to figure out exactly where they are headed with it, if anywhere.
The first thing we heard is that it would drop back to five classes. Then it would be just a matter of seeing where the line was drawn. Some teams would go in with the big schools and others would drop into the 4A ranks. That could still happen, but other plans are now being proposed. Different classifications for football and the other sports being one. I clicked Dont Like. Note: They also tried to factor in socio economic levels, but that didnt really come close to passing.
In the past, it appears to me that they have classified schools by picking an ADM number as the dividing line that gives them the number of schools they want in a class. They might factor in keeping some leagues intact. However, it doesnt appear they pick where a classification starts on the lower end based on a number that would move schools to a certain competitive level.
Athletics are really a numbers game, particularly in football. The larger the school, the more likely it is that athletes will specialize in just one sport. To do that you need numbers. St. Helens has some students that do that, but there are very few in Scappoose. Most of their top athletes do two, and often three sports.
My own feeling is that if they drop into five classes, they should have a dividing line around 1,200 between 4A and 5A. That puts more in the top class. It also increases schools in the next class (4A). I think they should also raise the lower limit to around 500. Schools could be allowed to go up if they wish, and the lower end could have a cushion to allow schools to go down if they wish.
Some of these things are already in play, but the smaller schools in 5A now really struggle against some of the bigger schools. Will it affect the current 4A ranks. Sure, but could also make things more equitable.
Its really just a thought. The classification committee met on Monday. No minutes have been released yet, so it will be interesting to see where they are later this week.
Doing nothing but some tweaking is probably also an option. Nothing will happen really quickly, but something needs to be done before the next school year to give new leagues a chance to start setting up. It takes time.