"Between the Lines"
The potential of Fremont Ross, Findlay and Lima Senior entering the Toledo City League is bound to stir emotions.
It is a reminder of the days when Ross and Findlay were members of the Great Lakes League. Include current City League member Whitmer, a former GLL member, and you have most of the old GLL back in the CL.
On this side of town, Waite and Clay are the only schools that would be impacted by the change. I think whenever you look at league additions there are four basic areas of consideration. Those would be school size, distance, competitive advantages, and financial impact on the schools’ budget.
In the case of school size, Fremont, Findlay, and Lima Senior fit well into the City League being Division I schools in all sports. CL schools are primarily D-I or D-II in any sport, and often Clay is D-II in football.
However, distance is an issue for most if not all current members of the CL. Distance may be the biggest deterrent to acceptance with Clay being 83½ miles from Lima Senior and Waite being 78 miles.
Consideration probably should be given to mid-week contests in Lima. It would be hard to start a contest after 5-5:15 p.m. without creating return times barely squeaking in before bedtime. My love for athletics and the impact sports have on our youth is strong, but I still feel we have to send our youth a message that education is first priority.
You also have to wonder how soon Lima Senior would want to leave after having to travel those distances for all away contests except Findlay. If Lima joins the CL, the best investment here may be a hybrid car dealership in Lima.
Findlay is an average of 50 miles and Fremont is 34 miles, which aren’t near the impact of the 81 mile drive Lima is. But one must think not many City schools travel 50 or 80 miles for contests very often. CL commissioner Ed Scrutchins said it would be two to four weeks before any decision making starts, so time will tell how current league members feel about the travel.
Competitively, all three schools bring athletic rich programs to the City League. I also believe they have fans that travel well. Gates should not suffer in the money sports because they bring in those needed dollars for athletics.
There has been some talk competiveness may be too steep for some schools in certain sports. I feel there are ways that can be handled. Commissioner Scrutchins stated the league’s point system, like that used in football, will serve a 12 to 15 team league well.
I believe the CL could also look at tiers or divisions in team sports like football, basketball, soccer, baseball, and volleyball. The conclusion here is all three schools add much to the league athletically, and that will outweigh the other considerations.
Budget concerns are huge these days with revenue down in a slumping economy. Oregon superintendant Dr. Mike Zalar said he came to Oregon Schools during Clay’s first year out of the GLL, when Oregon Schools first entered the CL.
Dr. Zalar said he remembers “all the talk and records showing the travel savings for the schools from the change.”
So Zalar anticipates that all CL members will look at the impact on their budget with the increased travel. Zalar also felt league members would have a heart, if possible, for those three administrations. Any administrator or athletic director understands the reasons for being part of a league, and no one wants the scheduling headaches of being independent.
I am glad I do not have to vote myself on whether to accept those three schools. There is no way these decisions can be made without repercussions in one form or another.
A former football player on a state championship team at Fremont St. Joseph, I feel Ross would be a good addition with very little economic or educational negative impact.
Findlay, being a little further away, fits well also, but I do pray they widen I-75 to three lanes between Perrysburg and Findlay, I hate those traffic bottlenecks on Friday nights going to Findlay.
Lima Senior, however, I would vote against. Education needs to remain more important than athletics, and I feel to regularly take a high school student somewhere where they may not find time to study tells them education isn’t as important.
(Mark Reeves is the long time statistician for Clay football and a broadcaster of Clay games for the Oregon-based internet company WRSCradio.com.