News Sports Opinion Photos Social Classified Obits Contact

Old vs. New: The high school baseball playoffs have given us a taste of tradition mixed with the up and comers. We all were attentive to the run by Tallassee in Class 4A. UMS-Wright beat the Tigers in the quarters.

The Bulldogs will play for their second straight title and fourth championship since 2010 this week. UMS has a storied success with blue trophies in the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2000s.

Hoover eliminated Vestavia Hills in the 7A semis last week. Hoover is a perennial power in just about every sport now. They have been Vestavia's nemesis. The Rebels won their last baseball championship in 2000.

Vestavia Hills and Tallassee were the teams of the 1980s and 90s in baseball. Tallassee had seven Class 4A title teams from 1986-1998. Vestavia won every championship but one in 6A from 1991-2000, nine in all. Neither team has won one since.

Meanwhile, schools like the mighty "Hoover U," UMS-Wright, Madison Academy and Trinity have thrived, stepping up their games even more in the last decade.

Tallassee beat Trinity in this year's post-season and needed one more win against UMS to advance. UMS and Trinity have won six titles between them over the past seven years. Both are private schools.

Tallassee's last really good run in baseball came in 2006. The Tigers made it to the semifinals falling to another private school, St. James.

Private vs. Public: This may sound like sour grapes, but it's tough to beat the privates. That's a credit to them.

The private schools don't win everything. In football last season, Tallassee (like in baseball) beat the last three state champions in its class. Those teams are public schools; Handley and Leeds.

That proves that the THS athletic program has been at a high level this past year.

Some members of the state legislature are putting the pressure on the AHSAA about making changes to its structure. Talk has been that the 1.35 multiplier applied to private schools could be adjusted. There is also conversation about dividing the two sectors into separate divisions in addition to classifications.

The numbers are out of whack with state titles for private school vs. public schools, whatever the reason(s) may be.

Thanks to Steve Stokes who sent me a breakdown of championships in a variety of sports. In baseball he noted that there have been 11 titles in the past three seasons among the seven classifications. Madison Academy and Mobile Christian have multiple titles during that period.

This season, a record private schools were in the semifinals. Four of those teams are in state championship series this week.

I went through the seven classes and counted 40 private schools that participate in the AHSAA. There are dozens more that are members schools of the AISA, an all-private school association.

There are a total of 415 member schools in the AHSAA. I might have miscounted on one or the other, but private schools make up roughly 10 percent of the AHSAA membership.

In baseball, four private schools won titles in 2016. That's 57 percent of the championships. The same was true in 2015.

Most of the private schools are smaller schools. There are a handful of private schools in the larger classifications.

There are a lot of private schools that don't compete at a championship level, just as in the public sector. It's not that being private guarantees an advantage.

The 1.35 mulitiplier pushes most privates into a higher class. It hurts some schools. It doesn't matter much to others.

The multiplier applied to private schools probably has the most impact on football. It's a numbers game. The biggest debate about private schools is their ability to recruit, although the AHSAA's transfer rules prohibit student-athletes from "jumping ship" and playing right away.

In football there have been 15 private school championships over the past 20 seasons. There have been seven private school titles in the past five years. Last year, three private schools played in the Super 7, but there was no private champion.

In sports like golf and tennis, the private schools are elite. Some of these sports aren't even offered at some places, so that is understood. It's also a financial thing.

What's Next?: It's difficult to determine what is right because there is no right answer. What might seem fair for some schools will penalize others. It really varies depending on the school and the sport.

The AHSAA may do nothing. My guess is something will change soon. Reclassification and realignments are scheduled to be released at the end of the calendar year.

Send Comments