Football Ad Hoc Has Outlived Usefulness

John L. Braese

After many years of doing a great job, the charging cord for my laptop finally gave out. This was the fault of no one. Too many times getting stepped on, too many times being caught up on a shoe on the floor, too many times of being wrapped up and thrown in the travel bag for a trip to a game.

It was a good cord. It did the job for many years but there just came a time to move on (thanks to Amazon and black electrician’s tape in the interim).

Such is the case with the OSAA Football Ad-Hoc Committee.

For years, we have listened to the same old arguments, heard the same comments and seen the same decisions made by the committee and passed on to the Executive Board.

“We need to just a few more years of playing down. We promise this won’t be forever.”

“If we weren’t in this league, we wouldn’t need to ask to play down.”

“We have a group of kids coming from the sixth grade. Just give us a few years.”

We agree times have changed. Today’s players matured on fields where everyone received a ribbon for participating. This has now translated to the high school ranks. In 6A, we now have two champions-the good team champions and the not-so-good team champions. Two teams receive a trophy and can board the bus feeling good.

But apart from everyone going home with a title, a few thoughts.

  • Not every community/high school places football just below God, country and hunting. Many have taken on soccer as the sport of choice and that is great. Success on a field is success on a field, regardless of sport.
  • In no other high school sport in Oregon is losing rewarded and success penalized with the exception of football. You lose, play smaller teams next season. You win, play up with the big boys. How many teams in other sports endure season upon season of losing years without the benefit of a committee allowing them to move down?
  • The most recent committee hearings showed a glaring issue. Football at the 6A level is much different that football at the 1A level. Athletic directors and coaches of the 1A pleaded for additional time to allow the smaller schools to figure some things out. They were flatly turned down by the committee. When a committee decides they know better than those actually coaching the kids on the field, there exists a problem.
  • The committee has lost transparency of decisions affecting your teams. While there does exist public meetings, most discussion on placement of a team takes place during “work sessions”. EOS requested and was denied access to these work sessions, receiving word these meetings were for staff only.

In addition, requests for copies of information discussed during the work sessions resulted in emails from law firms to EOS and bills charging rates unacceptable to a small media outlet. EOS personally knows of emails sent to the committee, ones that were never discussed in the public meetings.

  • Teams continually moving up and down divisions has ruined rivalries long important to schools and communities. A player today may never see that team on the field as seen by his grandfather, uncle, father and brother.

If we do away with the committee, what shall we do? Here are a couple suggestions.

  • Football is an evolving sport. For all the schools complaining about continuous losing seasons under a coach of 18 years, it is time to change coaches. The problem is not the success of your opponents, the problem exists within your own program and its leadership.
  • Football is not so special compared to all the other sports. If unsuccessful teams in football need to be saved, the same needs to be done for other unsuccessful teams in volleyball, cross country, basketball, wrestling, tennis, baseball, softball, golf and cheerleading.
  • Every other sport is on a four-year cycle. Allow football the same consideration and quit changing leagues every year. The up/down, up/down changes currently are difficult on athletic directors, coaches, fans and most importantly, players.

The football ad-hoc committee stepped in at a time when changes needed to be made. That time has passed. What we have now is a group meeting behind closed doors and perceived as making decisions to benefit a select few.

Oregon now has four types of football, a depleted 8-man program, teams wondering of their opponents in the fall, coaches urging kids to play a football style never experienced by the team and to be truthful, a loss in that final game of the year could be a positive if a team’s record sits on that precipice of wins and losses.

Football is a sport like every other in Oregon, no better, no worse. The state championships, the wins, the losses, the competition should be on the field-not on the votes of a committee.