TopOfTheCircle.com

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Jan. 9, 2018 — The price to play?

This week, a bill allowing schools in the same school district to form co-op teams to compete alongside other New Jersey public high schools went to the desk of Gov. Chris Christie.

At the same time, it’s being reported that a number of high school sports teams in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. may have to form co-ops in order to remain active.

I don’t know whether it is because of the high price of club competition in a number of high-school endeavors, or the lack of credentialed, competent coaches, or whether it is the youth obesity epidemic, but the fact that even large public school systems cannot seem to form the bare minimum to have a sports team is a staggering reality.

The main argument for the New Jersey bill is a situation which occurred in the capital district, where a public school of some 1,500 students could not scrape up enough people to make up one football team.

The school, Plainsboro West Windsor-Plainsboro North (N.J.), is in an area where the growing Asian middle class — one in which tackle football is not part of the culture — is ever present. The North campus petitioned the NJSIAA last summer to form a mixed team with Princeton Junction West Windsor-Plainsboro South (N.J.), but were repeatedly denied.

Now, there are some competitions in which co-op teams are not only welcomed, but celebrated. Two of the best U.S. girls’ lacrosse teams the last five years are co-ops: Lakeland-Panas (N.Y.) and Newfield Middle Country (N.Y.) have sent athletes to Division I schools, and you don’t see their rivals complaining about any potential advantages that they have over their competition.

As the effects of head injury discoveries continue to drive down youth participation in tackle football, let’s see what the nature of interscholastic competition becomes.

I still think you’re going to get a deregulated system where the national governing body of each sport has dominion over the competition all the way up to the U-19 level. Kind of like the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, but writ large.

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