Unless you subscribe to Friedrich Nietzsche's notion of hope being "the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man," there was some good news from Baton Rouge Friday, with the majority of high school principals voting in favor of a plan that would end the public/private split that plagued the state's high school sports for most of the past decade.
The principals voted for separate playoffs in football in 2013 and followed with splits in basketball, baseball and softball in 2016. Animosity between the groups has remained strong since, but Friday's results at least (or at worst for the Nietzsche crowd) provides hope that the split could end soon.
The plan, submitted by Tommy Byler of North Vermilion, would have brought public and private schools together for playoff competition, with private schools' enrollments subject to a 1.25 multiplier that would move some of those schools into higher classifications. It was approved by 53 percent of the voters (179-165) — principals of Louisiana High School Athletic Association schools — shy of the required 66.7 percent required, but a large enough total to give hope for opponents of the split.
The results have not been pretty, initially with bloated championship events and bottoming out in the most recent football season with a state championship game being played on the campus of one of the participating schools, robbing the participants of the experience of an appropriate championship game experience. Adding injury to insult, the home team won 52-3.
The same fate could await private schools in basketball, because there is still no site set for those championship games. For now, the Hamilton Christian Academy boys and St. Louis Catholic girls teams are in limbo. Both schools have a legitimate chance to reach the semifinals and/or state championship again, but now have no idea where those games would take place.
Both are likely to miss out on the thrill of playing in front of a large crowd at Burton Coliseum, where both the boys and girls state tournaments will be played. Instead, they could be playing on the home courts of the highest seeded team before a sparse crowd.
Meanwhile, local hoops fans would be missing out on the opportunity to see some of the most talented athletes in the state, such as Scotlandville's Reece Beekman, the top-rated boys basketball recruit in the state and University of Virginia signee, because private schools are not part of the state tournament. Same thing on the girls side, where John Curtis Christian star Jerkaila Jordan will not be appearing.
This shows the nonsense the split has produced. Some area teams, such as the Grand Lake boys and LaGrange girls, are going to get the chance to play their most important games on a great stage, close to home, while others won't, through no fault of their own.
It just shows how the split and lingering animosity hurts the kids the principals and LHSAA are allegedly acting in the best interests of. Instead, they are unjustly depriving the athletes and their fans the opportunity to see the best versus the best on the big stage.
Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at email@example.com