Separate playoffs will cause problems

The late Rodney King once openly wondered, “Can’t we all just get along?”

The answer — across multiple platforms and situations — seems to be a resounding, “No.”

The nation’s politicians seem as divided as ever and so do the people they serve. A drive down any residential street during the height of election season proved that.

And if that didn’t convince you, all anyone had to do was check out the Letters to the Editor in this newspaper or look at Facebook, Twitter or the reader comments attached often to the most innocuous stories on our website.

Sports always seemed different. Fans could follow different teams, but there always seemed to be a grudging respect between followers of Ohio State and Michigan, Cleveland and Pittsburgh and other rivals.

High school sports used to be that way, but every so often hard feelings bubble up to the surface. They’re there for everyone to see now that Ohio high school principals are expected to vote in May on a proposal to adopt separate postseason playoffs for public and private schools.

Some Wayne County superintendents are behind the push for a vote. If the referendum passes, the public vs. private debate could end high school sports as we’ve known them in Ohio.

The subject come up again because the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s members were unable to come to a resolution on referendums in 2010 and 2011 that might have resulted in a more level playing field when it comes to assigning schools to divisions.

Let’s be honest. Nothing against Ursuline, but the Irish are not your typical Division V football program. Even Ursuline coach Larry Kempe and athletic director Sean Durkin would have to admit that.

Public schools Warren Harding and Canfield have reached the state finals in recent years, but no public school here has won a football title since Poland in 1999.

Maybe something does need to be done, but separating public and private schools for playoff purposes is not that answer. It’s a huge over-reaction to a problem that isn’t an end-of-the-world issue.

Remember, Ursuline didn’t get to Week 14 this season. Cardinal Mooney, long viewed as the area’s other so-called villain by those who wave the public-school flag, didn’t even make the playoffs in 2012.

Look what Mentor did in the Division I playoffs. The Cardinals beat parochial powers Lakewood St. Edward and Cleveland St. Ignatius in back-to-back weeks.

But hey, public schools can’t beat private schools.

If the referendum passes, private schools then could form their own version of the OHSAA and openly recruit athletes. Talk about unintended consequences. I wouldn’t blame the private schools a bit for doing what they have to do.

It’s high school sports. There should be a way for those on both sides of the public-private debate to co-exist and respect one another.

Ed Puskas is sports editor of The Vindicator. Write him at and follow him on Twitter at

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