The sports section of The Indianapolis Star on Sunday (Jan. 29) featured a major story about private schools having an unfair advantage over public schools in athletics. Plans are in the works to consider implementing a “1.5 multiplier” for private schools, the majority of which are parochial. What it amounts to is a school like Cathedral, which has a current enrollment of 1,149, would be considered as having a “multiplied” enrollment of 1,724. In other words, each student would be counted as 1.5 students, which would bump the school from 4A to 5A in football, but would remain in the same classification for all other sports. The upshot is that other 4A schools would have a better chance of winning a state title in football without having to play Cathedral. As it is now, there are 62 schools in 4A, only three of which are private, but private schools—mostly Cathedral—have won six of the 21 state football titles since the class system was adopted. The disparity is even worse in the 3A category. Ten of 62 schools playing football in the 3A class are private schools. Seventeen of the 21 state football titles have been won by private schools! So the idea is to bump up the private schools by artificially saying that each private school student represents 1.5 kids instead of just one!

Have we totally gone nuts in this state? Have we totally forgotten what the purpose of high schools sports is within the larger framework of educating our children? Is winning a state title so important to coaches and parents that we’re prepared to artificially reduce the competition to improve our chances of winning? Apparently we are.

Private schools exist, generally speaking, as more expensive alternatives to a public school education. Public school coaches claim that the private schools recruit, that they attract better athletes, and that they put more of their resources into athletics. Whine, whine whine! If private schools are winning more than their “share” of state titles, what do you suppose the real reason might be? Could it be because parents really believe their kids are going to get a better education in a private school? Could it be that parents are willing to pay a premium for the private school experience? Could it be that the parents are more involved in the lives of their children and, therefore, more likely to encourage them to excel in everything they do—all the way from the classroom to the athletic field? Could it be that private schools do a far better job of fundraising for their extracurricular programs than the public schools? Maybe it’s time for the overzealous parents and coaches to step back and take a more realistic look at how important winning a state championship really is. Does it really matter who won the 2A state title in football in 1988? No! Of course it doesn’t matter! I’ll bet not a single reader of this column knows off-hand who won the 2A football title in 1988!

What matters in high school team sports is learning about group dynamics: teamwork, self-sacrifice, hard work, and leadership. These are the valuable skills that will serve them well as adults. Whether they win a state championship or not doesn’t matter a lick in the long run, except to the coaches who want to move up in the coaching ranks and the parents who think little Timmy will be the next quarterback at USC.

Private schools produce winning teams and outstanding students because parents are involved in the lives of their kids and want them to excel. That’s all there is to it! Last year 100 percent of the graduates of Cathedral High School went on to a 4-year college. Only a handful will play football, and fewer still will be playing big-time college football.

As an almost separate issue, but ultimately connected, for all the parents out there who think their son or daughter needs to play on a winning team or a championship team to have a chance at a college athletic scholarship, let me tell you how it really works. Regardless of the sport—football, basketball, baseball, soccer, whatever—the way to get your kid noticed by a big time school (or a smaller school for that matter) is to send your son or daughter to a summer sports camp offered by nearly every big time college and university. These camps are staffed by college coaches from all over! If you want little Timmy to get noticed, send him to a specialty camp offered by schools like IU or Purdue or Notre Dame. Just make sure the camp is run by college coaches, not high school coaches. Send game tapes, send stats, but be sure you send your kid to a camp run by college coaches. That’s where they’ll get to see how good little Timmy or little Tillie really are, up close and personal. If little Timmy isn’t fast enough, quick enough, strong enough, big enough, or smart enough to go to the next level, a state championship won’t matter a whit. Going to camp is how it’s done.

That’s —30— for this week.

Watch for Paul Barada’s column Mondays in the Rushville Republican. Add a comment at

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