Eddyville, KY


Bring classes to all high school sports

Wednesday, February 08, 2017 - Updated: 1:03 AM
By Jody Norwood jnorwood@heraldledger.com

As sometimes happens when pen meets paper (or in this day and age, when finger meets keyboard), last week's editorial in this space didn't start out as a diatribe about school funding.

It began with a recurring thought, this time after a basketball game last month.

Kentucky needs to address disparity in its current athletic system.

For those not familiar, high schools across the state fall under the purview of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

They set the rules and zones.

Right now, their rules and regions don't leave much room for small schools.

It should be noted that when we refer to small schools, it's traditional public schools like the majority of those in western Kentucky. Sure, there are small schools that compete every year in every sport for state titles.

They're almost exclusively private schools, small in enrollment, but big on resources and able to bring in athletes from wherever they can recruit.

As it is, a school like Lyon County competes equally with Caldwell County despite the district having more than double the students.

They both have to try and slay giants like Henry Clay in Fayette County where enrollment (2,383 students in 2015) is about a third of Lyon County's total population.

Even for larger western districts like Graves and Marshall counties, they don't have the population in place to pull from like larger central Kentucky schools. Consolidated giant McCracken County will have some success given its size, something the three dozen districts around it would also like to celebrate.

There is a caveat here. While the state doesn't break things down by classes, there is the All A tournament.

The All A -- which now includes basketball, soccer and several other sports-- began in 1980 with a small schools tournament. It grew over the years, but was mostly a showcase for central Kentucky private schools who were already competing against larger public schools in the state tournament. In many ways, not much has changed.

That's not to knock the tournament.

At least it gives schools like those in the Fifth District (and most of the Second Region) an opportunity.

That's leaps and bounds more than the KHSAA is doing for districts where a graduating class in triple digits is considered large.

There is a more uniform option.

Nearby Illinois is one of several states with a class system.

In basketball, it's broken down from 1A to 4A.

Four divisions, plenty of room to divide up the mostly rural, small districts closer to the Missouri Bootheel than Great Lakes in the north.

There's no reason the same wouldn't work here where small, rural districts at the far ends get pulled down by the heavily populated urban areas in central Kentucky.

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