Opinion: Ontario is out, but should they have been in?

ONTARIO – Today, Ontario High School officially forfeited a play-in game to the state 4A football tournament offered to the team. Prior to the decision, the school consulted with the coaching staff, athletic trainer and administration. After the recent loss to Burns, the Tigers had 14 healthy varsity players.

The decision ends a difficult season for Ontario. The head coach resigned the day of Homecoming, the team finished winless and now were forced to make a decision to forfeit a final game.

The players, remaining coaching staff, parents and fans of the Ontario football team are commended. Looking back to August, this was not the dream. Through it all, the Tigers have repeatedly taken the field, played their guts out and finished the game. Kudos to Ontario.

Those significantly smarter than I have attempted to explain the OSAA ranking system to me on numerous occasions. I make no claim to be an expert.

I have a working knowledge of the Colley Ranking and RPI rates. I understand losing to a really good team can move a team up over winning to a really weak team. The tougher the schedule, win or lose, the better the ranking.

Understanding that all, there is something fundamentally wrong when a winless team is invited to the big dance. Ontario played a season against great teams, no doubt. That fact does not take away that other teams, not invited, won two or three games this season.

This is not the first time the system has been questioned. This season’s volleyball season saw team A beating team B twice during the regular season. Team B was ranked higher. For years, teams on the eastern side of the state have been penalized in the ratings for playing Idaho and Washington teams.

This is not to say I have the answer. For the most part, the playoffs have shown the ratings mostly accurate. In most final games, the teams involved were ranked four or higher.

Oregon athletics should not be proud the level of play has diminished to where one team taking the field of play has never seen the winning side of the scoreboard. State playoffs should showcase the best of success. This is not five-year old children playing soccer where everyone receives a participation trophy for showing up. We have built the system to crown the best at the end of the season. I just question the road to getting to the goal.

Ontario showed a great amount of class in the decision made to forfeit. The decision was made for the right reasons and protected the student athletes. In the end, Ontario should never have been forced to make the decision-a team looking for win number one should be planning for next season.

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