6:58 PM Wed, May 09, 2007 | Permalink
For more than 20 years I have spent my Friday nights in the fall calling the many stadiums in Southeast Texas to get the High School Football scores. It is a competitive business, and now with the internet there is another avenue to report on the many games that make "Friday Night Lights" compelling in Texas. I have enjoyed watching some great teams and the development of some of the many players who've gone on to have successful college careers, and later the pros. From Adam Dunn at New Caney to Madison's Vince Young, the quality of play is tremendous.
But now the State Legislature is wrestling over the question, should private schools be allowed to compete in the UIL?
The precedent was reached a few years ago, with the addtions of the two Jesuit schools in Houston and Dallas. It was wrong then and it is today.
Private Schools are different than public schools, and as such should play in their own leagues. I say this as a product of a private school which has a proud tradition of excellence in both the classroom and on the field.
Already the UIL has the difficult task of making certain member schools aren't breaking the rules. Every year it seems one school or another will be disqualified because a student should have been ruled ineligible. By allowing the private schools in, it will only make this task tougher.
The fact is the private schools have a distinct advantage, they can recruit. Oh I remember my school didn't have athletic scholarships, but funny our football team became a whole lot better when the coach found a quarterback and a receiver who were enticed to transfer from the local public school. They were given "academic" schlorships and spent the year with tutors making certain they were eligible. The headmaster of the school enjoyed seeing the team win football games and it probably made his job as a fundrasier easier.
The high school was stuffy enough to have a squash team, in fact it was so good the squad was rated number one in the nation. (A small achievement since there aren't that many schools that have squash teams.) Nevertheless our top squash player who had difficulties passing math, had no trouble receiving an "academic" scholarship to Princeton. It was a question of ethics then, and still is today. I don't have a problem with recruiting per se, but let these teams compete among themselves, not against schools which are set by boundaries. I realize even among the public schools there are situations where the territories come in to question. How can a kid in Baytown play for a school in Missouri City? There's been more than one instance when a child is raised by an "uncle" because he lives in the district of a school with a better athletic program. That too is wrong and often difficult to police. But the goal of the UIL is for teams to be playing against each other on a level field. It's far from perfect, but adding more private schools will cause a greater tilt.