Athletic ‘balance’ push for schools rejected

By Rob Todor

A hotly debated initiative that would have changed the landscape of Ohio high school athletics was narrowly defeated Tuesday.

The so-called “competitive balance” between public and nonpublic schools was set to a vote of school principals in the state.

The measure failed, 332-303, a vote close enough that it is likely the issue will not go away.

The referendum would have taken every high school’s student enrollment in grades 9-11, then used factors such as how students are secured (i.e., open enrollment), the number of students on the free-lunch program, and the school’s tradition in team sports as multipliers.

Greg Cooper, athletic director at Canfield, was a member of the Competitive Balance Committee, formed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which studied the concerns and forwarded the referendum to the OHSAA for the vote.

“I think the vote shows that there is a growing number of people who feel that there is some systemic imbalance,” said Cooper, “but it also shows there is certainly a disagreement on what is the best way to solve it.”

Cooper emphasized that the recommendation was not a be-all, end-all.

“It was not intended to be a panacea,” he said. “The whole purpose was to identify that there are differences between school districts. ... It’s going to be interesting now to see where we go from here, or if we do anything.”

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