Catholic League Joins PIAA

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   On 12/11/06, in a press conference held at School District of Phila. headquarters,
the Catholic League announced its intention to join the PIAA (though La Salle and
SJ Prep must apply separately) and become members of District 12, currently
reserved for Pub schools. Ted's column is below. Your comments can be found
toward the bottom of the page. Please send your thoughts to silaryt@phillynews.com
and put the words "CL & PIAA" in the subject field. Also advise on whether it's OK
to list your name. Thanks! 


Finding patsy at PIAA's party

CATHOLIC LEAGUE WILL JOIN PUB IN DISTRICT 12 COMPETITION IN '08

   AND, SO, WE have come full circle.
  Almost 27 years after thumbing its nose at the Public League by refusing to allow its girls' champions to participate in City Title events, thus killing the tradition-steeped boys' series that lasted four-plus decades and over time encompassed all sports, the Catholic League has come crawling back, making all nice.
  Assuming no snags with approvals expected to be of the rubber-stamp variety, and also assuming that fully privates La Salle and St.
Joseph's Prep remain in the fold, District 12 of the PIAA will include the Pub and Cath for the 2008-09 school year.
Those CL folks know a patsy when they see one.
  It was the Pub, despite great internal uproar that to a large degree remains in place, that went to all the trouble of altering its entire existence to join the PIAA in September 2004 (after 1 year as a paper-only member).
  And now, incredibly, it's the Cath that will benefit, after needing only to step lightly around assorted rubble.
  Has anyone been paying attention? Has anyone noticed that since becoming eligible to compete for state titles, PL reps in team sports aside from basketball (boys' version only) have become almost completely accustomed to losing and even getting trounced?
  Yes, CL officials did. Knowing their sports programs are stronger almost across the board, they have plotted to enter the PIAA through District 12 even though, a generation ago, they wanted to create as much distance as possible between their league and that league.
Can't you just hear what went on in the recent Archdiocese-sponsored committee meetings?
  "The Pub is weaker than ever. All those charter and special schools. The talent is so diluted. If we go into District 1, we'll have to fight against so many quality schools."
  "Yeah, let's talk District 12 into taking us. We'll be stronger pretty much across the board. Maybe they'll even take our suburban schools."
  "Man, are they that naÔve? Think they'll do that? That'd be heaven."
  All along, the officers in the PL's sports administration group, and their bosses, have insisted the go-PIAA move made sense because benefits can be derived simply from competing. And from helping their athletes realize there's a big, wide state out there.
Agreed. Competition does make the world go 'round. And a kid from North Philly does need to realize "suburbs" does not mean West Philly.
  It's just that now there's a legitimate fear: How many Pub teams will actually storm forward out of District 12 and get to experience the assorted niceties?
  Again and again recently, Pub coaches and athletic directors have asked me, "Why are we committing suicide?"
  So as yesterday's lengthy news conference, held in the School District Administration Building, wound down, that question was posed to the top two officers in PL sports administration, Marjorie Wuestner and Robert Coleman (he doubles as the District 12 chairman).
"I don't believe that. I truly don't believe that," Wuestner said. "Competition is great."
  Coleman then began talking about the poor attendance by localites at the recent Frankford-Liberty Class AAAA state playoff and how much better a City Title showdown would fare at the gate, keeping revenues in the city.
  He was sounding like a guy who now believes a City Title is more important than a state championship.
  "He's not saying that," Wuestner quickly chimed in. "He's saying it's an important game."
  Wuestner then added PL sports will be lifted across the board because the middle-school programs are improving. She said those programs are not in financial danger "because we won't allow that to happen."
  Here's something else the Pub should not tolerate: the stealing of its athletes.
  When an athlete transfers to a new school, unless he has been tossed for grades or behavior, his old and new principal must sign papers contending the move was not made for athletic purposes.
  How many of you are laughing? Sure, non-athletes transfer all the time from Pub to Cath schools in 10th, 11th or even 12th grade (wink, wink).
  Once CL members become part of the District 12 committee, and assuming the PL folks show spine, those eligibility hearings could make for a great reality show.
  (Meanwhile, the Pub will need to do a much better job of making sure its own house is in order when it comes to transfer paperwork. It now enjoys living in a vacuum. Not so when it joins with the CL. In Pub football and basketball, I'm guessing there are at least 100 transfers in action this year. A PIAA bigwig could have all kinds of fun trying to determine how many times people bothered with the
paperwork. Or even know they're supposed to do it.)
  Bishop Joseph McFadden, who oversees education in the Archdiocese (and is a longtime proponent of getting the CL into the PIAA), said "the moment is now" when asked to describe why this move finally took place. He added, "We're looking to an exciting and enriching future."
  Wuestner said to the audience, "We will not shy away in any way. Raise the bar, and get better."
  On overall matters, Brad Cashman, PIAA executive director, said he envisions the PIAA adding another big-school classification for football playoffs and perhaps more all-sports, state-tournament entrants from District 12 because of its increased size; he can't picture a separation of public and non-public schools for state tourney purposes; CL schools, like those in the PL, will be unable to play against fifth-year athletes (that could force the Inter-Ac's join-the-PIAA hand); high schools are allowed to "athletically recruit" only at predetermined feeder schools; and principals are solely responsible for making sure all athletes are eligible and have not received athletic scholarships.
  McFadden insisted CL personnel are prohibited from recruiting athletes and those who do so "put their jobs on the line." He added, "Money is not to be given to come play athletics."
  Guffaw time again. Some athletes pay little or nothing. Their tuition is covered by "sponsors." Some folks who donate money for memorial scholarships stipulate that the money can go, for instance, only to a football player.
  On a broader scale, parents of eighth-graders have become adept at pitting one school against another. "Yo, they're giving us $1,000 off the tuition. Make it $1,500 and I'll go to your place."
  McFadden said he was not in favor of open enrollment, which went into full effect for the 1993-94 school year and helped lead to this insanity. "But that's where we are," he said. "There's no going back on that."
  How this move will affect individual CL sports is murky. In football, a playoff round and occasional Thanksgiving meetings might have to go. In basketball, the regular season will end much earlier and participation for top-line teams in the prestigious Alhambra tournament
will terminate. Generally, game limits in all sports will be lower.
  So much to do. About 20 months to work with.
  Pub people? They can hope that, if this was a suicide, it was only a take-pills version. And that the stomach-pumping will be successful.

Your Comments . . .

--

   One thing I definitely don't like about this move is that it'll almost certainly move up the football season, so that it starts the same time as the season starts in western Pennsylvania: ten days before Labor Day. That takes the whole football world that much more out of the school year calendar and makes it even more difficult for football players to have a summer job and be like other high school kids. Call it the slow professionalization of high school sports. I also don't like the idea of playing football till mid-December, though of course most teams will be through, except for a possible Thanksgiving game, by very early November.
-- Frank Gavin
   (Ted's note: I guess that's a possibility. Definitely could be draining on bodies and wallets.)
---
  How is Bartram supposed to survive and grow athletically when you take three of our annexes (Communications, Human Services/Roberson, and the Business Annex) away by creating sports programs at two of them and the other being forced to play at Franklin in 2007?
  The talent pool continues to become diluted with the addition of all these charter and special admit schools which draw from all over the city.
  Schools in the Northeast either draw or recruit students from all over the city, including Southwest Philadelphia.
  Now we are going to allow Catholic schools to join district 12 of the PIAA. All of these programs recruit. Some of their players live outside of Philadelphia. Some players are chauffeur driven by their coach. How are we the neighborhood comprehensive high school supposed to survive all of this?  Maybe the reality is that the plan is to phase such schools (like Bartram) out altogether.
Damond "Smash" Warren
Head Football Coach
Bartram H. S.
   (Ted's note: The system is certainly moving in that direction. They want many, many, many small schools. Better for learning and maintaining behavior control, no doubt, but football is a numbers sport and it can't help but suffer.)
---
 If the Pub thinks they had problems before, wait until parents get a look at what Catholic schools have to offer in terms of education to their kids.
-- anonymous
   (Ted's note: Some even offer reduced tuitions to those who can hit a jump shot -- smile).
---
  Being a CL coach at La Salle, I think this a good thing for the CL.  Giving our kids a chance to show their skills on a state level would give them an exposure they may have never seen.
  My only questions is how the CL will change based on this.  Will the CL still be broken up in Red and Blue for football?  If they keep the Red and Blue, would the PL combine there 3A teams to match the Blue schools?  I know time will tell on how this will break out.    Overall I'm glad to see the happen.
  One thing I agree with that you mention in your article is that with the CL join the PL, I hope the coaches in the PL are prepared for the higher level of competition they will be facing.  I feel if the PL coaches prepare more for the CL, will thus in return make them better prepared to face schools from the other Districts in PIAA.
-- Bruce Fleming
   (Ted's note: Lots of thinking to do for both leagues in terms of sorting all this out. I'm not sure how the CL breaks down between 4A and 3A, but West, McDevitt and K-K are 2A, I've been told. Not enough schools therein to qualify for a state-playoff berth, so they'll have to play up. The Pub needs to do a better job with placement. Last year, Roxborough, Dobbins and West were 3A, but supposedly decided to play up to 4A. Why they would have done that is beyond me. Playing at 3A might have given Dobbins or Roxborough a chance to go to the states.)
---
  In the article you wrote on the CL entering the PIAA, you really make the CL look like an evil entity and were just waiting, licking their chops to beat up on  the PL while it is down.
  I think it is a un-fair view of the CL entering the PIAA.
-- anonymous
  (Ted's note: Pub coaches/ADs viewed the CL as an evil entity long before this happened -- smile.)
---
  I agree with just about everything you say Ted especially the CL joining D-12 when the Pub is down. I'm one of the people who's been around even longer than you. Although I live 70 miles west of Philly, I always waited to see the city title game in basketball. First one I watched had Wilt playing in it. Like many I was so sorry when it ended. And as you say the CL could care less about the Pub until now. With all that being said I still very much enjoy watching the CL teams play basketball as that is my main sport. But I was hoping for them to join the PIAA that they would make a separate District or else come in playing out of District 1.
-- Jerry Shenk
  (Ted's note: Jerry has long covered hoops for assorted organizations, and has published his own newsletter . . . Not sure so few schools would deserve a separate district, Jer. It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out. Especially to see if the integrity of each league can be maintained, more so at the lower levels of enrollment.)
---
  Do you have any thoughts on how this is going to effect CL baseball? 
  I am wondering if there is any talk about realigning all CL sports based on enrollment, like the Suburban One does.  I guess we will have to wait and see if we are going to go with Red/Blue type divisions or stay North/South.  Wouldn't it make sense to go enrollment based, especially with the 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A classifications?  Also, it might make things a little more fair!
-- anonymous
  (Ted's note: Makes sense in one area. But I'd hate to see the overall integrity of the league get compromised. Then again . . . I guess that happened with Red-Blue for FB and two separate champions, eh? smile. I constantly remind people: the Catholic League for football is probably the only league in America with no champ and no home fields. Crazy, right?)
---
  I think I'll reserve my ultimate feelings on the Catholic League
moving into the PIAA for another time. There are just too many things
that still need to be worked out for this picture to come into focus,
at least for me. However, I will say this, as a CL loyalist and
supporter, I have to admit that I'm at least somewhat apprehensive with
what has transpired between the CL and PIAA. In a league built on
tradition and uniqueness, I feel that much of what the CL has long
stood for might suffer at the expense of this move.
  What is the sole purpose of this move? To compete for state
championships? I do see good in this aspect, but I just don't know if
it's worth it when you consider the risks. And when I say risks, I
mean, the changing landscape that the CL will undoubtedly have to go
through. Maybe these changes won't be that big of an issue, but only
time will tell. Until then, I guess it's best to just wait and see what
transpires.
  I also would like to comment on Coach Warren's comments from an
earlier post. This isn't so much of an issue that is directly related
to the CL and PIAA, but it is interesting nonetheless.
  "How are we the neighborhood comprehensive high school supposed to
survive all of this?"
  With all due respect coach and I truly sympathize with your concerns,
but when these larger schools get broken down to multiple smaller
schools it is all about surviving. Sure, maybe not for a football
program per say, but for survival in the game of life. The ultimate
goal of a school district should be to provide a safe haven for their
children to learn and prosper. Unfortunately, many of these larger
neighborhood schools came up small in this regard. Conversely, they
were harmful, disruptive, under-performing, and dangerous in many
cases.
  Smaller schools is a necessity in my opinion. I believe smaller
schools, with smaller classrooms, will ultimately promote better
academic achievement for more of the youth in our city. Thus, giving
them a better chance to succeed in life.
  It's a shame they couldn't find away to allow some of the smaller
schools to play with their offshoot, for example Comm. Tech and
Bartram, especially in a sport like football. I feel your pain, but I
just feel the big picture becomes clearer when smaller, more
manageable, and safer schools are established.
-- Ed "Huck" Palmer
   (Ted's note: Thanks, Huck. Puck's comments should arrive any
moment now. smile!!)
---
   Ted, Iím sorry the Catholic League (and school system) has survived and prospered where the Public League has not. Thousands of parents paid and continue to pay a real estate tax to fund the Philadelphia School District (and there athletic programs) while also paying to send their kids to Catholic school. They paid for services they never got and took a burden off the school district by lowering enrollment, and the school district still manages to run deficits year after year. But thatís the Catholicís fault, right? As for Damon Warrenís comment, who do these coaches think they are, taking a personal interest in a child and making sure they get to school? Ted stop grinding that axe.

-- Brian P. Tait
   (Ted's note: Thank for this, Brian. Not sure what it has to do with recruiting and paying for athletes, and you lost me with the Damond comment, but it's after midnight and maybe my mind isn't in perfect working order . . . Not that it ever is.)
--
Basketball wise with the classes that we've had, why didn't this happen years ago.
-- I shall be anonymous

   (Ted's note: I assume you mean the CL? Because very few coaches/ADs wanted it. Most still don't. When it comes to forget-that-democracy crap, Bishop McFadden=Paul Vallas. Lest we forget, they ARE bosses. So doing what they want is within their right. But at least a little support/agreement would make their stances more understandable.)
--
  I am surprised and somewhat mystified at your perspective that the Catholic League's motivation in joining the PIAA is to take advantage of a weakened Public League (not that I have any idea what the Catholic League's true motivation is).  I think I speak for a large majority of Catholic League alumni when I say that I do not understand why Bishop McFadden is so intent in joining the PIAA, whether as part of District 12 or District 1 or an entirely new and independent district (although I understand why he made the decision without consulting with school presidents or athletic directors, the majority of whom have opposed the move when consulted in the past).  Like most Catholic League alumni, I don't really care about the Public League, and I don't really care about the PIAA.  In the years since the end of the City Title game, the Public League has deteriorated to the point of being irrelevant to me, and the PIAA has always been irrelevant to me.  I miss the tradition of the City Title game (at least in basketball, which along with track remains the only sport in which the champions of the Public League can consistently compete with the champions of the Catholic League), and would like to see it resumed, but that could have been accomplished without joining the PIAA.
   As a Catholic League alumnus and fan, I have a different concern about the move to the PIAA.  I believe that the effort to comply with PIAA regulations, combined with other demographic and financial trends that have already weakened most of the Archdiocesan high schools, will end up putting several of the smaller and poorer Archdiocesan high schools out of existence.  The Catholic League has not deteriorated as badly as the Public League in the years since the end of the City Title games, but it certainly is not what it once was.  Since the last City Title games in 1979, Saint James has closed, West Catholic, Saint John Neumann, Archbishop Kenrick and Bishop Egan have merged with neighboring girls schools, and today rumors swirl about the continued viability of a number of Archdiocesan high schools.  Roman Catholic was saved by open enrollment years before the other Archdiocesan high schools were permitted to accept students from outside their traditional feeder parishes (many of which have died or are dying, but that is another story), and now open enrollment has given way to rampant recruiting, which has ruined any semblance of competitive balance in most sports.  In recent years, fully private LaSalle College High School and Saint Joseph's Prep (which are three-times more expensive but perceived to be superior academically) have dominated the competition in most sports, their only consistent rivals being Cardinal O'Hara in football, Archbishop Ryan in soccer, and transfer-laden Roman Catholic and heavily-recruited Neumann-Goretti in basketball.  All of the Archdiocesan high schools have smaller enrollments and higher tuitions than they had ten or twenty years ago, and the enrollments get smaller and the tuitions climb higher each year in a vicious cycle.  Does Bishop McFadden believe that the move to the PIAA will help these schools survive?  I don't see how it will, and I don't see any other justification for the decision.
-- John Mullen
   (Ted's note: Well put, John. I don't believe your Pub-related point was the CL's motivation, but the easier route makes much more sense to follow than the difficult route, especially if you're trying to convince the resistant folks that this move DOES have merit. Meanwhile, I can't imagine why the Archdiocese refuses to return to territories. I think, deep down, they want a certain percentage of schools to fail so they can close them and sell off the properties. Look what happened with West and Neumann. The more desirable plants were closed and the new schools were stuffed into the lesser buildings. Were those moves in the students' best interests? Not even close.)
--
  I read your article about the CL joining the PIAA. Couldn't figure out if you were disappointed with the Public Leagues position or thought the Catholic League was pulling a backdoor move by coming on board. In any event, I would have less issues with the decision of the CL to join PIAA if Bishop McFadden was not the "face of the Catholic League." The good bishop is the most shameless self-promoter since P.T. Barnum. In any event, I'd like to see the Public and Catholic Leagues in a City Title game once again. Now if only there could be some assurance for the safety of the fans attending those games.......oh well, one thing at a time.
Joe Galanaugh
Aston PA
Neumann Graduate Class of '71
   (Ted's note: As evidenced by last year's N-G/Roman mess, "safety of the fans" can be an issue anywhere these days, Joe. I've known Joe McFadden since his days as West Catholic's basketball coach and never had negative thoughts about him. Can't say I pay much attention to the inner workings of Philly's Catholic power structure, though.)
--
   i personally dont like seeing a kid who is not catholic getting the benefits of a catholic education that working parents are busting their backs to pay for to give their kids a better life and a more safer school environment than what the public schools offer. the people from down richmond and fishtown and those areas are not setting the world on fire with money because if they were im sure they would be living in the northeast or the suburbs.
-- anonymous
   (Ted's note: It cannot be sitting well with parents who pay to see the playing time go to the freebie kids.)
---
   I may be a purist, but I really donít like the way the PCL has gone in the past several year.  The recruiting and the fundraising is now necessary to keep some schools afloat, but itís just downright silly what the league has become.  Some schools learned early that recruiting kids to play sports will make the school more appealing to some, while other schools took a little longer to figure it out, or were reluctant to go that route.  There was such a drastic shift in power in the PCL in football over the past 10-15 years that made the league what it is today.  For example, Prep was always just a regular team in the PCL.  Some years they were up and some they were down.  Almost overnight they became a national power.  The same thing happened with Roman, but on a smaller scale. Roman was not an above average team in the PCL, but once they got the jump on teams with the recruiting, they all of a sudden became a perennial top 3 team in football.  Some schools, like North and Judge, didnít go the recruiting and paying the athletes route in the earlier days.  I know Judge resisted it for years, thinking that kids would just come to Judge because they were Judge.  They found out that parents wanted the schools to show them the money.
-- anonymous
   (Ted's note: It's a different world now, definitely. You don't keep up, you get left behind.)
---
  I can't speak for all schools,  but the schools that I am familiar with do not recruit athletes.  I do realize that the prep schools do recruit, but they really don't have a parish base to draw from, they are set-up to recruit players and good students.
  I do realize that there are some inner-city schools that do recruit.  If I lived in the city and my son or daughter was being recruited by a catholic school I would jump on it too.  This is not due to the face that the recruiting school was a football power, but more to the fact that the public school system is a complete failure.
  I am also aware that the public high schools located in the NE (Frankford, NE and Washington) do recruit, that is a fact.
  I don't think the coaches and AD's should be blaming the catholic schools, but should be looking to their own administers for the disgraceful system they have subjected the kids of Philadelphia too.
-- Dan
   (Ted's note: Well, "complete failure" is way too strong, but there are obvious and serious problems. Because of charters and magnet schools -- very few of which have football, by the way -- the comprehensive schools are mostly special-ed centers. The top students are expected/encouraged to go elsewhere. Over and over and over, Pub FB coaches mention how tough it is these days to achieve discipline -- not so much behavioral; I'm talking mostly about not jumping offsides, remembering plays, etc. -- because so many of the players have learning disabilities).
---
   Looking at the situation through the tunnel vision of being primarily a basketball fan I'm not sure what they will gain, although to be honest I felt the same way when the Public League entered the PIAA a few years ago.  The better teams gain the opportunity to compete for a state championship but it will also mean that schools will have to trim their regular-season schedules by four games (most CL teams play 26 games before the playoffs) as I believe that the PIAA has a limit of 22 regular season games plus 2 games if there is a post-season league tournament, such as with the Mid Penn league in the Harrisburg area. Teams will also probably lose the opportunity to compete in the Alhambra tournament in March.  I don't believe that recruiting will be any more of an issue in the CL than it is in many other areas of the state.  Generally speaking, I believe that any entity is taking a chance when it gives up it's autonomy but time will tell.
-- Tom Taylor
   (Ted's note: Tom is another passionate, long-time follower of city basketball and helps us keep track every season of scoring.)
---
 I think itís a great idea that the CL joins the PIAA. Iím looking at it from the football and baseball standpoint. Over the past couple years the pub has gone down in the talent level. The 2004 football season was the last season that the pub has a chance in the piaa playoffs for football with that Washington team. Ever since then the pub just gets killed every time they step in the PIAA playoffs no matter if its 3A or 4A school. Baseball hasnít been that good in the pub since 2000 or even before then .The only thing the pub has is basketball and how long is that going to last. I just think that right now the CL would do a better job at representing our city. Back in 2000 maybe it maybe would have been a different story but times change and the CL dominates.  Thats just how i look at it from a former players standpoint.
-- anonymous
   (Ted's note: About baseball, Central definitely had a nice little run last spring.)
---
   As a recent graduate of a CL school I believe that this is not in the best interest of the schools or students. It is ludicrous to think that the archdiocese could go back to territories. It was forced to go away from them because the ever changing neighborhoods lost too much of the Catholic population. North, my alma mater, now draws from all over northeast Philly and New Jersey and it must do that to survive. I spent four years going to and from North even though Judge and Ryan are both extremely closer because I wanted to be somewhere where my family had tradition and was comfortable with the faculty and administration and I am glad I was not just placed into another school. I would probably not have attended an archdiocesan school if it was not for open enrollment, but I was able to look at many options and am glad for that. I believe North set me up for my future and I am not sure I would have had nearly as much success at another school. The biggest concern I have with this move is the idea of stricter "recruiting" rules. I spent the last four years convincing students of traditional "feeder schools" such as St. Matt's and St. Chris's that North was a better choice for them even with them constantly being told we were closing or being undercut by more money from other schools and North has continued to survive and was recently given at least five more years plus Alumni have become even more generous with their donations. It would greatly diminish North's chances if people like my father could not call students and convince them to go to North regardless of their athletic ability. The final concern I have is the tradition and money involved. The CL has too much to lose in rivalries and Thanksgiving Day games to make this worth it. Other then St. Joe's no teams will ever be able to compete in football unless more and more money is pumped in which diminishes the schools true goals and that is the only true money sport. Also with the basketball championship game being moved back to the Palestra (my new home) the state championship games will never mean as much as a CL title and I hope they don't take that away.  I reiterate that I am saddened by this choice, but I respect Bishop McFadden and I am usually on board with his plans. I hope and pray that he has made the right choice in this matter.
  P.S. John Mullen you should look at the CL champions in most sports prep and LaSalle are lacking hardware in quite a few sports, and I would say North has been a pretty good rival in soccer and wrestling, but I guess it doesn't count as a rivalry when prep and lasalle never win.
-- Brendan Glackin
   (Ted's note: Territories are always possible, Brendan. They'd just look much different than anyone remembers them. And probably not work. Especially now, with so many kids coming from one-parent families, it doesn't take much to come up with "another" home address.)
---
   While your article describing the uneven playing field that will be created
by the Catholic League joining District XII of the PIAA is good one and
while you're right that the Public League has not generally been
competitive in the state tournaments . . .
basketball is not the only exception.  You failed to mention Central's
baseball team advancing to the state semi-finals last year.  This not to
take issue with your premise, but Central baseball is a notable exception,
nonetheless.
-- Dan W.
   (Ted's note: Others have mentioned track, which has fared very well.
I know they crown team champions, but track always has stricken me as
an individual sport.)
---
 I must be getting old. I do believe in change or die, but that has always been on an academic and administrative level for me. Ahhh, for the good old days before open enrollment. What does this mean fro the PCL? I am not sure. My hope is that it cleans up some of they recruiting mess that leaves me feeling dirty. While I am fully aware of student coming from Pub to Cath schools, it does work both ways. There are examples that I have been involved in where a transfer has left and gone PUB. The days of coaching the kids that showed up at your door is long gone.
Who decides who is a feeder school? I actually think this hurts the Cath if they are not allowed to offer scholarships. Why would someone pay $5000 when they could go to a PUB for free? Sorry I do not buy the argument that because the school is PUB it is necessarily bad [editor's note: my daughter is a hard working Phila PUB teacher].
That's my 2 cents I hope the powers that be have thought all of the above out long and hard. I have spent too much time and had too much fun in the PCL to see it tarnished.
Sincerely,
Mike Patterson
Varsity Assistant
CDHS Boys Basketball
   (Ted's note: Mike is also a grammar school principal. So he sees things from all kinds of angles.)
---

This is a foolish move that will cause not only problems but terminate many traditions (so long Thanksgiving) the cost of recruiting just went up and the integrity fell off the table. As far as exposure is that what High School athletics is all about? I have grown weary of AAU coaches and the Oak Hills of the world. Eventually you will have two superpowers the Prep and LaSalle and the rest will find themselves afterthoughts.
-- Fran McDonald
   (Ted's note: If the economy goes off the deep end, even La Salle and Prep will scramble -- smile.)
---

   I miss the days when officiating a Catholic League football game was so very special.  As a young official, working a game on a Sunday afternoon was a great experience.  Prior to 1991 the Catholic League played NCAA rules and many collegiate officials having off on Sunday would work the league.  Some would work Notre Dame, Penn State and other Division 1 games the day before and would fly back that night to work the CL on Sunday.  I think that many CL players also miss the glory days when games would be played in front of several hundred or in some cases a few thousand fans.
  Instead of going the PIAA route I would have much rather seen the CL go back in time and strive to become the league that they once were.  Go back to the Northern & Southern Divisions, establish the feeder school system again, and stop the recruitment and offering of scholarship dollars to athletes..  Forget about being a national power and work to become a Philadelphia CL champion.  After all, in order to become a PIAA member the schools will have to discontinue scholarships and establish a feeder system again.  Bring back the CL North vs South Championship game and crown just one CL champion.
  I know my thoughts and comments are old fashion but it is great to dream.
Sincerely,
Jim Tucker
  (Ted's note: "Tuck" was long one of the good, competent guys on the refereeing trail. It was always easy to see that he cared and enjoyed being part of everything.)
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  I wanted to share one insight about your article on the Catholic League joining the PIAA.  I believe a  major part of the problem the Philadelphia public schools stems from a lack of programming in the city.  The Department of Recreation, the schools, and the community do not support programming the way suburbs do, except in basketball, and maybe in track.  I found it amusing that Ms. Wuestner claims that the PL will be lifted by the improving middle schools.  That's a farce.  I've taught in Philadelphia schools and I run an independent girls soccer program in Point Breeze.  We train inner city girls in soccer the way the suburban clubs do, and we play in the best suburban leagues traveling from Wilkes Barre to Baltimore.  One of our teams swept its suburban division 68-8 for the season, scoring more goals and having a larger goal differential than any of the approximately 1000 other teams in the league.  We have several travel teams ranging from ages 7 to 17.  One of the "better" Philadelphia Middle Schools soccer teams challenged our under 12 group to a game about a month ago.  The middle school team was all male, all 7th and 8th grade.  Our teams spanned 2nd through 6th grade, the oldest 11 years old, the youngest, 7.  We defeated the middle school boys 8-0; they did not get off a shot in 60 minutes.  Their problem?  They never played soccer before this year, they had little coaching and they had bad attitudes. Yet they were a second place team in the boat lifting middle school league.  The School District would be better off investing in community after school programs like ours.

   The name of our team is the Anderson Monarchs.  I think you are familiar with the boys program run by Steve Bandura, which includes the Philadelphia Stars.  I have been running girls soccer since 1998, and we get better every year.  We've spoken with Prep Charter, which is one block from our home, about bringing our club in en masse sort of like they did in basketball.   Many of our girls have already earned scholarships to private Inter Ac schools making it less likely that this will happen but it is fun to imagine what would happen if we could bring our team together into the Public League.   We would have few, if any, challengers in the public league, and I would expect to advance far in the PIAA playoff system.
   Anyway, I started this off by saying that the problem is that the community, the schools and the Recreation Department do not support programs like ours.  We have to scratch out our large budget with bake sales, donations and less than ideal equipment.  Our field is rocky, muddy and often victim to gun and other violence.  I had to rebuild my goal posts three times this season after vandalism.  It takes extraordinary effort to keep this going without real community support.  Not many are willing to put in this kind of effort.  The result is seen in first round PIAA losses,  frequently lopsided ones.
Walter Stewart
Coach: Anderson Monarchs Girls Soccer Club
President: Soccer Sisters, Inc.
   (Ted's note: Amazing accomplishments for your group, Walter. Thanks for the heads-up and keep it rollin'.)
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   My take on your "suicide" angle is this: Nobody really cares about D12 sports now. Not even the championship games, save maybe a rare basketball game. Or say, maybe NE-Central in football on Thanksgiving. They get better crowds at the Catholic-Public football games. Many alums from the pubs feel almost zero connection to today's sports teams and their schools. The only way to generate any interest in Public league championship games is to bring in the Catholic League. Win or lose. If they are going to get smoked in Allentown or Harrisburg, against some strange team without a soul in the stands, except mom and dad, cheering them on, they might as well play, even in a losing effort, to a CL team in what will seem and feel like a "bigger" game than any early exit playoff game could. Win or lose, the Gratz or similar PL Champ playing Roman/Nuemann/?? in the D12 hoops champs thrice trumps a Gratz-LowerMackawhotheheckin 2nd round game. Where they as often as not lose anyway cause they can't adapt to the style. Or a Central girls-Ohara/Carrol basketball game. A track meet with O'Hara/Prep/Carroll/Prendy/Bonner studs vs Gratz/ES/Central would draw five thousand or more at least at Northeast. You probably had 100 at the D12 meet not counting the runners. Frankford vs Judge in baseball, Dougherty vs Swenson in bowling, well maybe not bowling, you get the picture. Heck, maybe the CL helps pay for the upkeep of the super stadiums too.
   As far as the CL being afraid of D1, maybe. But in what sport is D1 a sure shot winner? Certainly not girls or boys baskeball. Little Flower was the #1 area girls soccer team, LaSalle was either #1 or close for boys, many teams and runners from the CL would qualify for states every year track and cross. Prep/LaSalle/Ohara/next best team would do fine or better in football. In any given year a boys or girls softball/baseball team from the CL is an area powerhouse. Carroll in girls lacrosse, LaSalle in boys would often be the state favorite.
I personally know one head coach who would rather be D1 than D12 to avoid any "nonsense." I bet in any given year there is a CL team good enough to make it to the semifinals if not the finals of any D1 playoff.
   The negative will be, and, you can bet on it, will be crowd control/behavior.
   (Ted's note: There is definitely a disconnect for back-in-the-day Pub grads; the Frankford crowd at the Thanksgiving game gets smaller and smaller every year. I'm sure you'd agree: the CL will get many more sports coming out of 12 than it would have trying to come out of 1. Not impossible in 1. Just easier in 12. Last time I looked, the one major crowd problem we've had in recent years was at last year's CL hoops final.)
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   I basically want to thank whoever got this through in order
for the catholic league to play in the PIAA...but I speak strongly on
this...Don't be suprised if the Catholic league doesn't win at least 3
sports every year in the state playoffs. Basically Catholic League be
prepared to receive a couple state chips...because it's been too long
that the western side of the state talks junk. I hear so much of,
Philadelphia is horrible in football and we can't touch any school. We
are a disgrace in certain sports. I really, just want to speak on
football. All this will cease when the catholic league gets their
first shot. It's been too long for the hold back of the PIAA in
Philadelphia but now that almost everybody is in the PIAA except the
Inter-ac league...I want people to know...Basketball, Football,
Baseball, and Track...people will finally realize some of our best
athletes are in the catholic league and we will once again rise to the
top and people will realize..Philadelphia is the best city in
America....Why didn't they do this earlier?....I can't wait!
-- Famous Amos
   (Ted's note: Amos is attending college in western Pa., so I'm sure he's sick of hearing about those schools -- smile.)
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  Coach "Smash" is correct..it's not right..how
schools in the northeast, southwest and all these other catholic
schools outside the city and inside the city . . oh yeah, can't forget
about the inter-ac schools...recruit but the public schools can't. I
understand that they get away with it. but it's not fair that they
take away from the city schools. it's like...whoever is behind the
table of what just happen with public schools...is really jerking a lot
of people...and people are not realizing that kids are going to
schools they can't afford but since they recruit .they attend and give
the catholic schools good names when they should be playing for the
public league...it's unfair and it's going to get worse, now that the
catholic league is in the PIAA...Even though..I want the eastern side
of the state to win everything...i still want it to be done fairly.
-- Famous Amos, Part 2
   (Ted's note: Whoa, hold on, buddy . . . "Recruiting," whether passive or aggressive, has been going
on in the Pub for years and years and years. Some of the  best players at Overbrook and West were
actually South Philly residents. And, especially in recent years, Gratz has lived off guys who started
off elsewhere.)
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