LHSAA

Perhaps all hope isn’t lost for the LHSAA after all.

A new proposal — one that includes six classifications and a 0.25 multiplier — received 52 percent of the votes at this past Friday’s LHSAA annual convention, giving us the first real sign that both the select and non-select sides could potentially come back together since passing the split for football in 2013. 

First things first, a proposal requires a majority of 66.7% of the vote to allow a constitutional change. So though 179 of 344 voters sided with a proposal to unify, the proposal was approximately 50 votes shy of actually passing.

But this is the first time representatives from high schools around the state have voted on the proposal, and as we’ve seen through the years, it’s truly rare something passes when it’s first brought to the floor at the convention, especially when it’s something as significant as bringing two opposed sides back together.

So what exactly was everyone voting on? Proposal No. 12 by North Vermillion principal Thomas Byler added a sixth classification for football and an eighth classification for all class sports. This would put roughly 51 schools in every classification in football and would close huge enrollment gaps in a given classification to help level out the playing field.

The proposal also introduces an enrollment multiplier. The state deems that you are considered a select school if 25 percent of students come from out of your school attendance zone, so this proposal would add 25 percent to the select schools’ enrollment.

In this fantastically detailed proposal, it goes through all six classes in football and shows where every school would land with their projected enrollment with the multiplier included for select schools.

As an example, in Class 2A for football, St. Frederick, Ouachita Christian, Many, Ferriday, Rayville and Delhi Charter would all be vying for state championships in the same classification. Can you imagine the playoff battles?

And heck, Class 5A would pit the likes of Edna Karr, Neville, Ouachita, Parkway, Lakeshore, Warren Easton and St. Augustine together. As a football fan, I want to see some of those matchups in the playoffs. And talking with a lot of football coaches on the regular, I know they’d be up for the challenge. Heck, just look at how some of them schedule games during the regular season. Think Neville, West Monroe or Ruston is scared to play anybody after putting together the 2019 schedules they did?

And speaking of West Monroe and Ruston, they’d have their hands full in Class 6A with the likes of Archbishop Rummel, Catholic and Zachary.

Imagine eliminating the conversations of “best in the state” after the prep classic. Imagine actually getting an answer to that question. For a long time that felt like a fantasy world.

The fact this proposal received 52 percent of the vote shows that principals are open to reunification, so perhaps the LHSAA isn’t doomed after all.

That’s at least been the narrative since January 2019 when the select and non-select schools grew further apart by passing a vote to separate championship games. That’s why yours truly would scoff at most proposals around this time of the year. But honestly, the minute I saw this proposal was the first time I thought, “This could actually work.” And it nearly did, though I never expected it to pass this soon.

Perhaps a door is creaking open to finally see the best play the best again when it matters most. Only time will tell.

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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