Like many states, Ohio has struggled to keep high school sports competitively balanced, as private schools have grown more dominant on the athletic field over the last decade. To do so, the state high school athletic association has proposed new measures aimed at leveling the scales and giving public schools a better chance to compete.
According to the OHSAA, from 1999-2010 non-public schools won 43 percent of state championships in selected sports, despite only 17 percent of schools in the association being non-public. As a result, a competitive balance committee was formed and a proposal was brought forth in 2011 aiming to make changes. It was defeated, 332-303, but the closeness of the vote was a factor in reviving the proposed referendum for 2012.
The plan calls for schools to be placed in tournament divisions based on an athletic count, which would be calculated by taking the school's enrollment and adjusting it according to three factors: the boundaries schools had from which to select students, the number of students at the school receiving free lunch, and the school's success in four of the last eight seasons.
The only modification from the 2011 proposal is the factor based on a school's success. The original proposal only took into account the school's last four seasons. The OSHAA stated that the change from four seasons to four of the last eight was to emphasize the long-term success of the program rather than "punishing a school for having one great class lead it to success." This factor, however, would affect the least number of schools.
The OSHAA Web site has simulations for several sports, indicating how many schools would be affected by each factor and to what degree. High school principals will vote on the issue May 1-15, and if passed, the referendum would take effect in August 2013.
NOTE: The measures narrowly failed for the second straight year, this time by a 339-301 vote. Some schools now want to petition for separate tournaments for public and private schools.