House Bill 1600 is attempting to bring sanity back to high school sports in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After years of complaints from public schools about the blatant recruiting advantages held by private schools, the state government is taking action.
The problem is simple. Public schools have hard-fast boundaries. Students don’t have choices as to which schools they attend. Each student’s mailing address corresponds to one district and only one district. Private schools, however, have no boundaries. They can recruit kids from far and wide, even crossing state lines. But the PIAA pitted these teams against each other in the state playoffs. Needless to say, over the years the private schools have done exceedingly well, while the public schools have struggled to compete.
Now, thanks to the new bill, once teams complete their district playoffs, the state playoffs will have a new format. Each size classification will have two brackets: a public school bracket and a private school bracket, thus crowning a “public school champion” and a “private school champion.” Then, each of these teams will play for an overall state championship.
While this system is far from perfect, it’s a marked improvement from the old one. Public schools may continue to get slaughtered when these teams meet up for the overall state championship, however, in getting there, they’ll be able to play similar schools in similar situations, giving themselves the opportunity to win the title of “best public school in the state.” Again, the system still has its flaws, but if you ask the athletes and coaches from the public schools, they’ll take this new system any day.
This will only take place in the “team” sports, however. Baseball, softball, football, soccer, basketball, and volleyball will follow this new format. The other sports will continue under the old system for the time being, with the possibility of adjustment in the future.