Gazzolo Column: Competition loses when everyone wins

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Let me be the first to congratulate St. Louis on making the football playoffs.

Hard to say you earned it, but then again in today’s world you don’t seem to have to earn anything.

Unless I’m reading this wrong, or there

are going to be a lot of bye weeks, under the new Louisiana High School

Athletic Association

playoff policy being finalized, almost all select (private)

schools will qualify for the playoffs before summer workouts even

begin. Or at least they could.

That’s what happens when you go with five divisions on the public — sorry, non-select — side and five on the select.

So next school year, instead of five champions, the state of Louisiana will give us 10.

Ten state champs. Wow.

With odds like that I wish I was back playing high school football. I could use a ring.

Congrats to Hamilton Christian, you just received a bid to the state tournament. Welcome to the party.

Things are a little tougher on the public side of the ledger. Barbe isn’t expected to earn a berth until Labor Day.

By the way, Louisiana will now have more than triple the number of state champions as California and the same as Texas when

you throw out the six-man divisions.

Last time I looked on a map both California and Texas were a smidge larger than Louisiana.

This, of course, is a bit of an exaggeration. We are not sure when all the details are done just how many teams will make

the select playoffs, but we do know more teams will be in the postseason than ever before.

In a world where winning is everything to parents and high school brass, this seems to make sense.

We give participation awards for T-ball, why not high school football as well?

That’s right, we already did that. They were called varsity letters and there was more than enough pride in those. Not now.

This does take away from those nifty soap signs on cars that read “playoffs or bust.”

One wonders how bad a team must be not to be considered for a playoff berth? Winless is about the only way where you won’t

have much of a claim.

The NBA has its slogan, “Win or go home.”

LHSAA now has “A win and you’re in.”

I don’t want to point the finger at the governing body of high school sports either. Let’s make this clear: the public school

officials wanted this and they voted to have it. It’s on them.

This because John Curtis, Evangel Christian and a few other select schools were too tough on the field.

Can’t beat’em, boot’em.

Of course, that’s not how those calling for the action are putting it.

They want to say it is about recruiting. I hope the LHSAA, which also said it would actively look in all directions for such

violations, don’t keep a blind eye on select schools when it comes to this process.

If this is all about fairness, I know of a few public schools that could use a good looking over when it comes to their rosters.

LHSAA, you got my number.

Now saying one win gets you in might be a bit of a stretch, but not by much.

We have had two-win teams make the playoffs last year, so this is more than likely to happen when you add to the playoff pool.

This makes the state championship a watered-down version of what it once was.

It was bad enough when the talk was for just two select divisions, but now this.

But hey, look on the good side. Last

year Barbe and Archbishop Rummel, which beat the Bucs in the Class 5A

football championship

game, both would have been crowned state champs. Not sure Barbe

can proclaim itself the defending state non-select champion

or not this year.

Ah, what the heck, as long as we are giving titles away, go hang a banner Bucs, you kind of earned it.

The fact that there are more champions being crowned in this state than California is laughable.

There were hardly enough good teams to have five playoff rounds last year. In fact, when you look at the opening games there

clearly were not.

I would love to say that this could be a master plan set in place by LHSAA members. Here is how we could make this work.

Let’s eliminate one round on each side. That would give the select and non-select playoffs four games each. Sixteen teams

per bracket. The winner doesn’t come out of the bottom bracket anyway.

We crown champs in both divisions and then play them off in a true state championship game.

Ten teams would get state title rings, five teams would claim the ultimate crown.

Call this the Bayou Brawl.

Think of the interest as state champ Barbe battles state champ Rummel, or some other select power in a winner-take-all match.

Promote it as Private vs. Public, Select vs. Non-select, recruits against non-recruits — better wait on that last one until

all 10 rosters are cleared.

It would be perfect.

And just think, the groundwork is already done.

The state is already divided.

Playing the games would be the easy part.

• • •

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com