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Rearranging high school sports leagues unnecessary.

Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Barbara Dellenback For The Register-Guard

The Oregon School Activities Association needs to hear from Oregonians soon. The OSAA executive board will be voting on a proposal to replace the current four-classification system of Oregon's high schools with a six-classification system.

The plan solves some problems for smaller schools, but it creates new ones for several larger ones. One of the regions hardest hit is the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area.

The charge of the committee working on the plan was to ensure competitive balance, contain transportation costs and preserve traditional league rivalries. The Midwestern League loses on all counts under the new plan.

The new plan will cause student-athletes from South Eugene High School and Sheldon High School to travel to Medford for much of their competition. Federal officials are asking us to conserve fuel. The OSAA can take the lead on conservation by including the Midwestern League intact as a 6A conference.

Under the proposal, student-athletes will miss more hours of school as they sit on buses. While some studying can be done on these trips, the class time can't be made up. Conservative estimates suggest that traveling athletes under the new plan will miss an additional 20 hours of class a term. The OSAA can take the lead on education support and demonstrate that the most important job of the student athletes is to become educated.

The new plan means that the traditional rivalries between South Eugene and North Eugene and Sheldon and Churchill high schools will be history. Eugene athletes will have to drive by several local schools in order to hit the freeway and head south. Few of the Eugene fans will be able to make the trips to Southern Oregon to cheer their teams.

The implementation of the six-classi- fication system will cost all of us. Two new playoff and tournament systems will have to be created. New venues will have to be rented. There will be administrative costs.

Fundraising will become even more difficult. Parents and supporters of education already are asked to fund music, art, libraries, athletics and more. The cost of chartering a bus is between $700 and $900. Buses will be needed for junior varsity football, varsity football, soccer, volleyball, cross country, lacrosse, track, baseball and basketball. Funds also will be needed for fuel, hotel rooms and food.

However, with some changes, the committee's work can be celebrated. The OSAA could vote to implement the plan for the newly created bottom four classifications. Then the OSAA can scrap the plan of having six classifications and go to five instead. With some tweaking of the 5A and 6A districts, this plan can work.

Sports are a valuable and fun part of high school. I applaud the OSAA for trying to make sports more accessible to students. But this plan creates problems where there aren't any.

To see the plan, go to www.osaa.org. I urge all residents - sports fans or otherwise - to share your appreciation and concerns: Write to OSAA, 25200 S.W. Parkway Ave., Suite 1, Wilsonville, OR 97070; call (503) 682-6722; or e-mail executive director Tom Welter at tomw@osaa.org. The vote takes place next Monday. All e-mails and calls are being passed on to OSAA board members.

Barbara Dellenback is a lifelong sports fan, a 15-year attendee of the OSAA 4A high school basketball tournament, a former varsity athlete and the parent of a varsity athlete at Churchill High School.
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Title Annotation:Commentary
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 18, 2005
Words:575
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