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Private schools have unfair sports advantage
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Editor, A few weeks ago, Calvary Baptist School of Savannah beat Treutlen County 11-0 for the Class A Region Championship. Treutlen will go to the state playoffs as a No. 2 seed. Calvary has a great team. I take nothing away from their ability. What I have a problem with is the system.
Treutlen, prior to this game, was 13-1 in their sub-region and region playoffs, and 20-3 overall. Treutlen was 7-0 vs. three different Class AA teams; one is going to the state playoffs: Vidalia. These three teams are all public high schools, so Treutlen can hold its own versus public schools.
Here comes the rub ... the Georgia High School Association classifies schools according to average attendance. Calvary fits into the same class — A. However, let’s look at reality.
Calvary can cherry pick their students from Chatham County (population 232,048) and can get students from neighboring Effingham County (population 37,535) if the students start ninth grade there. If an athlete excels in travel team baseball, they come to the attention of Calvary — or any other private school in the state — and can be recruited to attend that school.
Most public schools in Class A are restricted to a small geographical area, usually a city or small county. Treutlen County can only choose from its population of 6,874 people.
Is this advantage that private schools have legal? The GHSA condones this and it will not change unless the Georgia Legislature changes the rules. I’ve been told that at one time the rules changed for a few years because a high-ranking legislator’s grandson was being beaten in state debate contests by private schools. Is this advantage that is given to private schools right? In my opinion, not only no, but heck no!
Maybe you think this is sour grapes coming from someone involved in a small county sports program. Maybe so, but look at the statistics:
From 2001-09, of 151 Class A sports state championships, 112, or 74 percent, were won by private schools. Of the 100 schools statewide in Class A, 40 are private schools. We have 40 percent of the schools winning 74 percent of the state championships during that period. The only sports to have a majority of public school champions are football, with public schools winning eight of nine, and wrestling, with a 9-0 record for public schools.
There are many smaller, private schools that play for the Georgia Independent School Association. Why don’t the 40 private schools play in the GISA? Reaping the benefits of the financial rewards of winning the GHSA state championship may have something to do with it.
Should the rules be changed? Sure, but most of our state representatives, congressmen and senators send their kids to private schools, so forget them fixing this wrong.
The only way to get this changed is to have a ground swell of public opinion to try to sway the legislature or the GHSA. Who in these two groups really gives a hoot about the little Class A schools? How do you explain to your child that it’s the system and take an 11-0 loss with their No. 4 pitcher pitching, and know that in the first round of the state baseball championship, you’ll have to play another private school from Columbus, the second largest metropolitan area in Georgia? Go figure!

— Jack Hollister
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