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Dec. 30, 2015 — The New Jersey public-private split is averted

On Monday, New Jersey education commissioner David Hespe blocked the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association from segregating all private and parochial football and wrestling programs from their public-school counterparts in both regular-season and post-season competitions.

In a letter to the NJSIAA, Hespe referred to a 1982 decision which said, in part, “A league and conference structure that provides opportunity for healthy athletic competition among urban, suburban, rural and parochial schools adds substantially to the benefits derived from such interaction and serves the interest of preparing our young people for future involvement with persons of diverse socioeconomic, regional, and religious backgrounds.”

Hespe, I think, also recognized that to put these rules on just football and wrestling would lead to perhaps the kind of wall that is in place between public and private schools in many New England states, where, for example the field hockey teams from Darien (Conn.) and Wilton (Conn.) don’t play regular-season games against Lakeville Hotchkiss School (Conn.) and Greenwich (Conn.) Academy.

And it could also lead to problems in other sports where there are only a handful of non-public entrants statewide, such as swimming and girls’ lacrosse.

Imagine, for example, trying to form a single league in the latter. The NJSIAA does not crown a non-public champion in girls’ lacrosse, and trying to form a non-public league in South Jersey from roughly a dozen teams spread from Martinsville in the north-central part of the state all the way out to the New Jersey Shore isn’t a good idea for league play.

I’m kind of glad there was some kind of check on the NJSIAA’s vote, at least in this circumstance.

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