By Rob Todor
For all the debate about the proposed Competitive Balance Issue facing Ohio high schools, very few sports teams in the Mahoning Valley will experience much different from where they are now.
The issue, to be voted on by high school principals around the state from May 1-15, would take a school’s enrollment (based on numbers provided by the Department of Education) and incorporate factors such as open enrollment, free- and reduced-lunch programs, and past on-field/court succes, commonly referred to as the “tradition factor.”
The proposal was narrowly defeated last year, 332-303, and the OHSAA put it back on the referendum ballot this year, with a few tweaks to the tradition factor.
The majority of athletic directors who attended an OHSAA discussion meeting in Newton Falls on Tuesday expect the proposal to pass this year.
Last week’s approval by the OHSAA to add a seventh playoff division for football is widely regarded as a conciliatory move to garner support for the Competitive Balance Issue.
Many football-playing schools in Division I were concerned for years about the wide enrollment discrepancy. The difference of more 670 boys in Div. I (Cin. St. Xavier at 1,164 to Avon Lake at 494) was greater than from the largest Div. II school to the smallest school in the state.
The new Division I will be from 600 enrollment and up.
Some of the loudest opposition to the Competitive Balance Issue last year had to do with the tradition factor. Basically, each sports team will have a percentage (6 or 10 percent) added to its base enrollment for advancing to the regional or state semifinals in at least four of the past eight years.
In reality, though, very few teams will be affected. In football, only 42 of 717 teams — just 5.85 percent — will have a tradition factor added.
In boys basketball, only 10 of 803 teams will be affected, just 1.24 percent.
If the proposal is passed, it will affect only football, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, softball and baseball. Wrestling will be affected in 2017-18 when the OHSAA begins a team tournament.