In blogging about sports for the Kent Patch, I have really thought hard about what would be most beneficial. Simply parroting local stories in our newspapers wouldn't be much help and even here at the Kent Patch we have our own sports people. I figured as a reader, I would much more prefer to get a local spin on certain stories at the various levels of news; basically, how does it affect me or things that I care about? In this case, of course, it is sports. I hope to continue to do that here at the Kent Patch and am excited for this opportunity.
Recently, there has been news about the Ohio High School Athletic Association's (OHSAA) attempt to "level the playing field" in high school athletics. OHSAA already separates schools by enrollment in various divisions. The more popular a sport, the more divisions it is divided into. Unfortunately, OHSAA also has seen that even when they do their best to balance out the divisions, that doesn't translate into competetive balance. Despite the fact that private schools make up 14 percent of OHSAA membership, they account for 28 percent of state titles won. Along with that, some public schools also have a greater reach than just their school district, particularly public schools in districts that have more than one high school (such as the cases of Akron Firestone and Cleveland Glenville).
The new formula being proposed would add three additional factors on top of the school's enrollment numbers for boys and girls in grades 9-11, which is the current factor in deciding which division a school competes in. The factors would involve school boundaries, tradition, and socioeconomic status. If you would like to read the bigger details, a recent article at Cleveland.com explained it very well and can be found here.
HOW THIS COULD AFFECT ROOSEVELT
Now the question is, what does this mean for Roosevelt in terms of athletic competition? The short answer is likely not much. Roosevelt already competes in Division I in all sports except football, where it is a large Division II school. As a member of the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division, it is easily the largest school in the league, nearly 500 students larger than the next biggest school, which is currently Ravenna. As a result, during the conference season, Roosevelt plays schools from the smaller divisions as the rest of the PTC Metro enrollments range from about 700 to 900 students. If anything, there is potential that the new criteria could push Roosevelt up above the threshold of Division I in football. This would depend on the open enrollment and socioeconimic data from the district. The tradition factor, which weighs appearances in regional finals, state tournaments, and state finals, likely wouldn't affect football much because while Roosevelt has had some great teams, the Riders have only made the playoffs three times ever (2006, 2008, 2010) and have yet to win a game there. That basically holds true for every PTC school besides Mogadore.
Kent City Schools have a statewide open enrollment policy, but I am not sure if Kent receives more students from open enrollment than it loses. Even if it is a positive net gain, I'm not sure how significant a gain it is. My best guess from being in the schools is that it's a minimal gain. Another piece of data that remains to be seen is the number of students on free or reduced lunches. I honestly have no idea, but my best guess is that Roosevelt has a fair number. This would have a negative effect on the overall number, so could cancel out any bump from open enrollment.
For Roosevelt, a bump to Division I in football would create an even larger gap between it and the remaining PTC Metro schools as Ravenna will likely be Division III again this school year as will all the other schools in the division. This hurts Roosevelt in terms of computer points for the state playoffs as the computer awards less points for beating a team from a smaller enrollment division than beating a team from the same or a higher division. That's why Roosevelt made the playoffs last season over Ravenna even though Ravenna beat Roosevelt late in the season. Roosevelt beat Division I Stow, which was more valuable to the computer than Ravenna beating Division III Streetsboro. Because the other computer points were virtually the same, that one difference proved to be the biggest one as Roosevelt edged Ravenna in the final points tally to get that eighth and final regional playoff spot even though Ravenna won the PTC Metro. In other sports, all schools qualify for the state tournament via sectionals, so computer points are not a factor, so Roosevelt being Division I isn't much of a factor.
Overall I think the new criteria are a step in the right direction, but it does not address the competetive balance in Division I and II, which is where it is most prevalent. In the end, I think many of the private schools should compete for state titles separately (which is the case in Virginia), though apparently this has been proposed before multiple times and defeated. For Roosevelt, it would either leave things as is or put them in an even more difficult area to win at the Division I level for football. What do you think?