It’s been a half-decade now since Louisiana principals voted in 2014 to split postseason play for football.
A few years later, the split widened to include the “major” sports, bringing basketball, baseball and softball under that same umbrella.
At the time, I loved the split, and honestly, I pretty much still do understand why it needs to be in place. Teams in Louisiana (I don’t need to say them by name, we all know who most of them are) are blatantly breaking the rules. I was born at night, but not last night. I know it, you know it. We all know it. It’s the worst kept secret in Louisiana prep athletics.
But the problem is enforcement has been made mostly impossible because the LHSAA is a lazy, mostly inept organization with mostly poor leadership. There are rules on the books, but enforcement is made impossible because of vague laws and bylaws that impede investigations and how they must originate.
To the LHSAA’s credit, there have been times in the past two years where they’ve ruled with an iron fist and have dropped the hammer with an iron fist.
But enforcement is selective and nowhere near consistent. There are no protocols or precedent.
It's so inconsistent that they've actually been taken to court and have been defeated, thus overturning some of their penalties, which has led to pending lawsuits and litigation.
The lack of consistency has created a world where the inmates, by and large, are ruling the asylum and running it into the ground.
Knowing that, principals opted for the divorce five years ago, putting the apples in the same basket with the other apples and the oranges in another basket with the other oranges.
And to me, that makes sense — so long as the association is unwilling to police itself and its future.
But now, we’re five years in and enough time has passed to fully study the situation.
And I think it’s time that the association cuts the crap and remedies the situation permanently — one way or another.
Last week, private schools voted to form a subgroup of the LHSAA to schedule their own championship events. Earlier this year, they voted to remove themselves from the LHSAA State Championship Events.
So the private schools will now host their State Championship events separate from the other schools in the state of Louisiana.
I have a problem with that and honestly, you, the fans of high school sports in Louisiana, should, too.
I also have a problem with the fact that private schools are in the same districts with public school teams during the regular season but are “separate” in postseason.
I have a problem with the fact that a private school team can beat a public school team in the regular season and knock them out of playoff contention — all while not playing in the same postseason bracket, because they’re “separate.”
I have a problem with private school teams qualifying for postseason by default while public school teams labor and often miss out.
That’s not right. If the oranges want to stay with the oranges, that’s fine. But we shouldn’t selectively mix them with the apples when it’s convenient. That’s unfair and isn’t in the best spirit of athletic competition.
Well, I can’t stand someone who bickers without offering solutions, so let me tell you how we fix it.
To me, the LHSAA needs to do one of two things.
Ideally, they need to find a way to get the association back together. This would be the most ideal solution that works best for everyone.
Sit down with both sides, have an honest discussion about the problems and let’s fix this thing once and for all.
Rules are broken by both sides — public and private. The private schools get 99 percent of the blame, but truly only commit about 40 percent of the crimes, which is why the divide has occurred.
We can fix 100 percent of the issues within the association right now by enforcing the rules in the handbook 100 percent of the time with 100 percent transparency and 100 percent consistency.
We can fix these problems by the LHSAA being more diligent to police itself without biting on every rumor. It would take an adjustment, but I think we all agree the system now is broken, so why shouldn’t there be an urgency to tweak to fix it?
I have my doubts about whether that will ever happen — especially given the current leadership structure within the association, or lack thereof.
So step two, assuming unification isn’t possible would be to force the private schools to form their own association apart from the LHSAA altogether.
Let them have their own districts, their own schedules, their own playoffs and their own everything.
If we’re going to split, then let’s split for good.
I don’t think anyone wants that.
Heck, I don’t want that.
But maybe the threat of that happening would force the adults in the room — who are acting like children — to come together and find solutions to get this thing back together where it belongs.
Just enforce your own rules and this all goes away.
Why must something so simple be made so hard?
No one likes the system now.
There has to be a better way.
I hope that better way comes soon before we separate further and cause a permanent fracture that may be too difficult to ever heal.