Bonine trying to find solution to split playoff mess

I wonder if there was a party Friday in Baton Rouge at the LHSAA convention?

After all, Friday marked the six-year anniversary of the vote to split the football playoffs into private and public championships.

Was there a cake and candles? Party favors? Jocularity for all?

Six years later, high school sports in Louisiana is broken, and one of the sports most injured by it is not football but basketball.

That is why the ears of several private-school principals perked up when they read the proposals by Teurlings Catholic principal Mike Boyer to hold separate championships in the sports currently split.

It makes sense – and cents.

Last winter, the girls’ basketball championships moved to Alexandria and a renovated Rapides Parish Coliseum, which did nothing for the many private schools in the championship from metro New Orleans.

In Division IV, Christ Episcopal School from Covington tipped off their semifinal game at 11:30 a.m. on a Monday. Going to the state tournament is supposed to provide a sense of excitement for the team and its fans, and 11:30 a.m. on a Monday doesn’t do it.

In Division III, St. Mary’s played its semifinal game on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., followed by St. Katharine Drexel at 1:15 p.m. Thursday, John Curtis played its semifinal at 11:30 a.m., and Dominican followed at 1:15 p.m.

A few hundred fans saw the game. If that game were played in metro New Orleans, at night, the venue would be packed.

In Lake Charles the following week, Riverside played its Division III semifinal at 11:30 a.m. and Country Day followed at 1:15 p.m. Both games were one-point thrillers. Too bad most of the fans in Burton Coliseum were disguised as empty seats.

Six years later, the issues with basketball have fallen squarely in the lap of LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine.

This week, Bonine pleaded for patience as he tries to find a solution.

He fears that separate championships would be just another step down the road to a complete split. His anxiety is completely understandable.

Bonine has inherited the world created by the leaders of the separation six years ago. This is what Many High School and Winnfield High School wanted.

And, clearly, it has not worked.

The private and parochial schools, at some point, must push to take care of themselves. Which is what public schools did six years ago.

The notion that both sides will at some point come back together for “the good of the association” is a fallacy.

Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

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