Over the past several years the Toledo Public Schools have suffered many financial setbacks and still find the system struggling to keep up with the economy. There are many urban schools who are facing issues much like the TPS schools around the country. The once proud Toledo City League is now facing a challenge that may be its biggest ever.
Last year the TPS system eliminated middle school, freshman, and some high school sports with low participation. That was a big blow to the remaining high school sports. The biggest blow is the imploding of the TCL when seven schools left to form a new conference, the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. That now leaves six TPS schools, after Libbey closed this past season, for next season to be in the TCL and they include — Bowsher, Rogers, Scott, Start, Waite, and Woodward. I will admit all of this does not look good and listening to the present Commissioner of the TCL he doesn’t see much hope for the future. He doesn’t seem to want to fix the problems either.
TPS officials, past and present, in a recent Toledo Blade article are blaming the problem on school vouchers, the other TCL schools for leaving them, cutting of junior high programs, quality of coaches in the system, lack of attendance at sporting events, unions, students having more options in life then athletics and the list goes on and on.
The Toledo Board of Education in mid-August appointed a special committee to research the future of the City League. As of today no word has been released on how this committee is doing and what they are doing. One suggestion to these folks, look in the mirror you are the ones responsible. The atmosphere of gloom and doom is making it hard to believe the TCL will be around in the future. I will agree there are some major concerns that need to be dealt with, but the time has come to put a plan in motion to make the TCL work. The plan should have happened as soon as the other TCL members announced they were leaving.
Let’s look now at how we can turn “lemons” into “lemonade”. The six remaining TPS schools now will have a better chance to win a conference championship in the future. All six face the same issues, so no one has an advantage over the other. Having an actual chance to be competitive and actually win some championships can be a positive for any athletic program. Want to make it more exciting for the TCL, two divisions of three schools in it and creative scheduling. Double round-robin scheduling in sports like basketball, volleyball and baseball will give added excitement for championships and also cut down on some travel costs. There is even the opportunity for division champions to play a season ending championship game and decide the conference champion. Not many conferences can say they do this. Plus you allow more TPS student-athletes to be named all-division or all-conference. All of the above give an extra shot of excitement for a school and something positive to build on for the future.
Looking for some added excitement how about a challenge series in the future with let’s say the Dayton City League which presently has six Dayton City schools as members and they are facing many of the same issues as TPS schools. A traveling trophy on the line goes to the conference who wins the most games in a particular sport. Hey the ACC and Big 10 do it in basketball and it is an exciting way to compete…and it works.
How about expansion and adding a couple of new members? You say who would want to join the TCL? I would say who have you asked if they would consider it? You might all be surprised that there are a couple of possibilities. How do I know? I asked.
Find corporate sponsorship to underwrite costs of awards for conference championship trophies, all-conference winners and to help underwrite expenses. Give the community a chance to be a part of the TCL, believe me it works.
There are so many possibilities that are positive and they can all make the TCL a competitive conference in the future. It may be time for a change on who runs the TCL and oversees the operations, it’s not a lost cause. Time to leave the “pity party” and join reality.
So we ask the question to you — Toledo City League — is the glass half full or half empty?
Dave Schmidt is a consultant and owner of The Senior Reports, an athletic conference evaluating service. He publishes www.theseniorreports.com and can be reached at