The last thing many of you who have been posting on sites like this for the past few years want is to re-hash the Public vs. Private debate. If that’s what happens because of this then I’m sorry. My only intention in writing this is to tell you why I have decided I was on the wrong side of the argument for many years. I have not posted regularly on this site for many years and it will most likely stay that way but I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this topic one last time.
My perspective of this debate is different than most. I grew up in a small Arizona town that at the time competed with at least three private schools from the valley. At the time the private schools did not dominate the small school ranks like they do today. However, I grew up hearing conspiracy theories of how these private schools were “recruiting” athletes. No one ever provided evidence of this. It was just assumed by almost everyone that it was happening. To be honest, I didn’t really care. I always felt it was our job to beat whoever was on the other side.
Interestingly enough when I was sixteen my family moved to Phoenix and my dad got a job at one of these same private schools and I was fortunate enough to finish high school there for free. I played football, basketball, and ran track. The school I attended was the main school that my hometown accused of “recruiting” prized athletes. It didn’t take me very long to realize that these theories were ridiculous and pretty humorous. Almost all of the kids at my school had been there for a long time, since grade school. There was no recruiting going on. The teams I played on were decent but not great except for one. My senior year our football team won the state championship. Nearly all of the kids on the team had been at the school for a long time except for me and another kid who moved from Texas when his family relocated. I was no prized recruit, trust me. I cannot vouch for all the other private schools but as for the one I went to everything was on the up and up. I had enough interaction with the other schools to believe same about them. Even though I was from a small town the conspiracy theorists of the north began to seem like “kooks” and cry babies.
As I began to get older, become a teacher and coach, I would come on sites like this and defend the private schools against the attacks of the conspiracy theorists because I knew they were wrong. I felt that these people were simply complaining because they were losing. The field seemed level to me. Schools of the same size, athletes of the same age, playing on the same fields. I’m not sure if it’s because of age, perspective, or something else, but I no longer believe this. I can now see that a very real competitive disadvantage exists between the smaller Private Schools in the Phoenix area and the schools of rural Arizona. I am not even sure I can give a real argument as to exactly what this advantage is. I still do not think that most of these are cheating in any way as the current rules are written. Furthermore, I believe it hurts the cause of the rural schools when people continue to complain in this way. Even if these private schools are completely “clean” they are not competitively the same as small town schools. As someone who has been entrenched in communities on both sides of this debate I can tell you that there is a real difference between a school in rural Arizona with 250 students and a school in Phoenix with the same population. Is that enough to cause a change in the current system? Probably not. Also, what do we do with charter schools? These are publicly funded schools. Recently we have seen at least two of these programs in basketball win championships with kids from all over the place. Would these same kids go to somewhere in north eastern Arizona to play basketball? I doubt it. This is an advantage that private/charter schools in the valley have. I am sure many of you can give many other reasons as to what some of the other advantages are. I have not heard of a fair solution to this problem. I am now just willing to admit that a problem exists.