Only three of the leagues nine Portland schools qualify for the 6A enrollment cutoff

The Portland School District is doing a disservice to its smaller members with its insistence on banding together to compete at the state’s highest level. This is like a bunch of frat guys sitting ringside at a Mixed Martial Arts event and convincing the puny one of the group to enter the octagon against Antonio Silva. “C’mon he’s not so tough, you can do this.”

Um, no you can’t.

The revamped PIL will have four of the five smallest schools at the 6A level. You will be asking Roosevelt with an enrollment number of 664 to compete against schools three times their size.

These smaller PIL schools were dismal at the big-school level before the new system was introduced in 2006, allowing them to drop into a 5A league where they found more even ground.

During the last 10 years of the PIL as a big-school league won three playoffs games and never advanced past the second round. This excludes Grant and Lincoln, which have enrollment numbers that qualify for the highest division.

The success didn’t skyrocket when the PIL went to 5A, but it did tick up a notch. The league has gone 8-15 (.348) in the football playoffs the last seven years with Jefferson making runs to the finals in 2009 and the semis in 2008. Roosevelt has seen similar success in boys basketball.

It is clear that the 5A level is a better fit with an enrollment range that fits for Benson, Franklin, Wilson and Madison, while Jefferson and Roosevelt are small enough to qualify for the 4A level.

Getting students to turn out for sports is already a struggle at most of these inner-city schools. Getting students to turn out when they are going to get throttled 67-6 every Friday night only makes that task more difficult.

This says nothing for the way the school district handled the demand to reform at the 6A level, making their plans known last summer after the realignment committee was a full year into the process. With the PIL leaving, the 5A level is left with only 33 schools making it by far the smallest division in the state.

“It came on a little late in the process, but it’s allowed under our rules,” said Peter Weber with the OSAA. “Anytime a school choose to play above its designation, it’s a concern, but it’s a school district decision. We made it clear that it would be a four-year commitment.”

“People didn’t see it coming,” Gresham Athletics Director Todd Nagel said. “There’s a likelihood that they’ll regret their decision, their smaller teams are going to struggle to compete, but it’s their right to do it.”

There is little doubt that the PIL will once again be outmatched at the 6A level. For the sake of their athletes, I hope they can bounce around the octagon long enough to avoid being tapped out.

Outlook Sports Editor David Ball can be reached at 503-492-5125 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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