Divisional dilemma and cookout questions

Shots in the Darke

I ran into longtime local school administrator Greg Place while eating breakfast the other day at Beanz Bakery in Greenville and broached a question that’s been on my mind the past few months in regards to high school sports, boys and girls basketball in particular. Greg’s not only been a principal at various schools around the area but has also served as an athletic director along the way, as well as being a veteran basketball, baseball, and softball official, so he’s a person whose opinion I respect.  

We started discussing the move made a few months ago by the Ohio High School Athletic  Administration to expand the number of divisions not only in basketball but also other sports at  the prep level. With both boys and girls basketball going from four to seven divisions the question is whether this will dilute the meaning of a state championship or bring about more competitive tournaments with more schools having a chance to advance to a state title game.  

Like most things, there are pros and cons to consider and I’m sure the OHSAA did before reaching a final decision, one that will bring about many different opinions of fans around the state. Greg and I both agreed that a main driving point was the possibility of enhanced revenue in Columbus, as the OHSAA is still recovering from the loss of monies from the Pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 due to the cancellation of the ‘20 tournaments and limited attendance in ‘21. Another major concern was the huge discrepancy between schools in the current D-I configuration, with Mason having 1,300 boys reported as compared to Vandalia with 356, Tecumseh with 348, and Wapakoneta with 347. 

October 31, 2023 was the official count of 9th, 10th, and 11th grade boys and girls to be reported from each of the schools who are members of the OHSAA, approximately 800 in total,  providing the information used to determine classifications for both the ‘24-‘25 and ‘25-‘26  seasons. 

Under the new format of seven divisions, girls basketball will see the following: 

D-I. The 64 largest schools in enrollment will play in this division, schools with over 582 girls. D-II. The next 64 largest schools, covering enrollments of 418-581. 

D-III. 127 schools from 271-417. 

D-IV. 129 from 192-270. 

D-V. 128 from 135-191. 

D-VI. 131 with enrollments of 93-134. 

D-VII. 129 with 92 or fewer. 

Boys basketball is similar in the divisional breakdowns. As of the last Greg and I had heard,  there will be state semifinals held at various sites around the state, with only the two finalists participating in state title games next spring in Dayton at UD Arena. We both feel this is a shame as it has long been the dream of every player and coach to make it to the Final Four in either Columbus or Dayton for championship weekend. Unfortunately, with the number of semifinal games that would be played in seven divisions, this becomes logistically impossible at one site.

1971 was the first year that the OHSAA first expanded from the longtime traditional two classes or divisions to three (remember AAA, AA, and A?). In 1988, a fourth division was added, and that has since remained the standard (D-I, II, III, and IV). Greg and I both are of the opinion that the dilution of the field will take away from the meaning of a state title while acknowledging that the seven divisions already in place for football have been well received by the public.  

Personally, I could probably live with a move to five divisions as that gap in size in D-I makes it almost impossible for a lot of schools (think the Miami Valley League teams) to have a reasonable hope of advancing to a state semifinal—it’s just a matter of numbers unless you’re a private school who can somehow compile a roster of AAU stars! This is just my opinion, what’s yours? 

Moving on to perhaps more interesting items of note— 

LeBron James appears to have gotten his podcast partner J.J. Redick appointed head coach of the Lakers even though he has never coached at any level. We all pretty much know that “The King” runs that franchise, don’t we!! 

Summer sports camps are in full swing as campers from elementary grades through high school work on their skills. Throw in summer league play, and young athletes have a great opportunity to improve over the next few months. I would suggest that individual workouts in the backyards, driveways, and playgrounds are just as important. Players are made in the off-season!! 

My wife Kathy’s cousin and her son from Rochester, NY stayed with us for a few days this past week and brought some great meats with them for grilling. That leads us to a few  important questions as the summer grilling season gets into full swing— 

Brats or Metts? Charcoal or gas? Potato salad with or without mustard? Lemonade, iced tea,  or an Arnold Palmer (my personal favorite, half lemonade, half iced tea)? Homemade vanilla  ice cream or a favorite flavor? Don’t even get me started on other meats and side dishes, I like  them all!! Have a great weekend, pass the baked beans!