Clearfield School Board Wants Level Playing Field in High School Sports

CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield school board wants the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) to level the “playing field” in high school sports playoffs.

On Monday night, the board approved a resolution to ask the PIAA to examine its rules with regards to boundary versus non-boundary schools.

According to Superintendent Terry Struble non-boundary schools – parochial, charter, etc. – don’t have any residency requirements for their students.

Therefore, he said their sports rosters are built around elite athletes from eight or nine school districts. Sometimes he said they come from out of state in pursuit of opportunities and exposure.

Meanwhile Struble said boundary schools, such as Clearfield, have smaller rosters and the athletes come from one of eight municipalities that make up the school district.

Numerous school districts across the state, he said, favor having the PIAA level the playing field by separating boundary and non-boundary schools in the playoffs.

For example, Struble said the Clearfield football team went up against a tough Cathedral Prep team Saturday. Currently in the Class 4A playoffs, five of the eight teams are non-boundary schools.

“Only three public schools are left in that classification,” he said. “… We want students to have a fair shot in competition.” Board President Larry Putt emphasized that “it’s just not football.”

“It’s affecting all sports,” Putt said. “It’s not a level playing field, believe me. I’ve been to numerous playoff games, and public schools are having a tough time.”

To that, Struble noted that 77 percent of PIAA boys’ basketball championships have been won by non-boundary schools over the past three years.

He said nowadays parents send their student-athletes to these non-boundary schools for the opportunities that can’t be gained at a boundary school.

“But if you want to play on a Clearfield high school sports team, you have to live in the district … Your parents have to buy a house, rent an apartment, have residency here.”

CMA Customers Asked to Pay Past Due Bills
Tangled Eight-point Buck Freed in Curwensville

One thought on “Clearfield School Board Wants Level Playing Field in High School Sports

  1. Paul Dietzel

    Mr. Struble says “If you want to play on a Clearfield high school sports team, you have to live in the district … Your parents have to buy a house, rent an apartment, have residency here.” The same is true for any public, or “boundary” school in any school district in the state, including the Erie City School District. The population of the ECSD is around 98,000; about five times that of the CASD. Since public school enrollment is necessarily a function of population and the ECSD has only one high school, just like us, (male) enrollment (1,365) at their single high school is vastly larger than ours (299). [All figures are from the Max-Preps site, the PIAA’s own website or Wikipedia.] With Erie High’s enrollment so much larger than ours, they are classified as “6A” while we are “4A.” [PIAA classifies schools with male enrollment of 273-384 as “4A”; those with 561 or above are “6A.”]
    Obviously, with that disparity, E.H.S. and C.H.S. do not compete in any sporting contests.

    Cathedral Prep H.S. is also located in the city of Erie with an enrollment of 382 males and as such is classified as “4A.” With an enrollment only two short of the upper limit of classification “4A” I don’t find it hard to imagine that the enrollment might be purposely held at that level to maintain that status.

    But, that’s not the whole point. Per the PIAA, CPHS is considered a “non-boundary” school. As Mr. Struble points out “non-boundary schools – parochial, charter, etc. – don’t have any residency requirements for their students.” They can enroll kids from virtually anywhere. The PIAA apparently feels that it is fair that based solely on enrollment that Clearfield, a school with a total district population of under 20,000 (2010 Census: 19,155 per Wiki) compete with another school that is not only located in a city of around 100K but which can matriculate kids from anywhere they choose. This situation has spawned all sorts of debate and meetings recently with competing suggestions on how to resolve the dilemma. Many of those suggestions involve separate championships for “boundary” and “non-boundary” schools. Those suggestions have been rejected by the PIAA and, not surprisingly, are opposed by representatives of the “non-boundary” schools.

    Much news had been generated of late about how the governing bodies of various sports have abandoned their traditional roles of advancing the well-being of their sports and their members; The US Olympic Committee, the NCAA, FIFA, USA Gymnastics and more. I’d offer that the PIAA falls into the same category.

    Finally, Prep’s quarterback had never played for them until this year; last year he was enrolled at and played for
    McDowell H.S. in nearby Millcreek Township. The PIAA’s rule on Transfers reads “If your Transfer from one
    school to another is materially motivated in some way by an athletic purpose, you will lose your athletic eligibility.” Forgive me if I take that with a grain of salt.

    Thanks, Paul Dietzel, Clearfield

    disclaimer: As many folks may know, I have authored the website for the Bison Football Boosters for quite some time. The above comments are not offered in that capacity but are solely my personal opinion. P.D.

Leave a Reply