Private v. Public

The real debate of the fall

Harrison Witt, Sports Columnist

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The playoffs are here.

Loyola will likely win back to back state championships this year because of the unfair advantages they have being a private school.  However, the competition is not as uneven as it appears.
That is the constant debate brought up in high school sports.  Should private schools compete in the same league and playoffs as public schools?  There are pros and cons.  The numbers make it seem rather balanced.  According to IHSA.org, over the past five years, 23 private schools and 25 public schools have been in state championships (Class 5A-8A).

However, these statistics are misleading.  The private school teams went 14-9 while the public schools went 10-15.  So, the obvious point is the private schools have done better when they have made it to the championship.  This sticks out like a sore thumb. There are 1,181 public schools in Illinois, and only 331 private schools. It seems odd that the athletic achievement is so close to one another, despite private schools making up one-fifth of the schools and averaging half of the average public school population.

Recruiting is one reason for this success. Private schools are able to go to many different zip codes and recruit elite talent to play for all their teams.  This is quite the advantage.  ETHS draws from four zip codes, while Loyola, draws from 99 zip codes. This is unfair.  That is how private schools get the best of the best.

Sometimes these recruiting efforts are successful, other times they are not.  Sometimes these players go for religious or academic reasons, other times they go for athletics.  Every situation is different.  But at the end of the day, there is definitely an advantage and it is pointing at the private schools specifically because of recruiting.

Recruiting is not easy.  Look at college football; it is all about recruiting. The best teams have the best recruiting coaches.  The same goes for private high school football.  But to me, what public high school football coaches do is far more impressive.  They take the players they are given and give private schools a run for their money.

Overall, the easy solution would be separate private and public schools in sports.  Private schools have unfair advantages and tend to dominate.  However, this dissociation is not likely to happen, so accept a challenge.  When your sport, whether football or any other sport, sees a Loyola-type school on the schedule, don’t pout.  Go out there and compete.  Playing powerhouse teams is a great experience, no matter what advantages they have.