Special Submission by "The Pulse"
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"The Pulse" was one of our regular contributors during the 2001 season. He asked for the chance to
express his opinion on a subject that continues to be important to everyone who loves CL football.
You may reach him at Joeyd5151@hotmail.com


   As the 2002 season comes to a sunset, I can't help but think back to the
way things were when I was in high school, playing in the united
Philadelphia Catholic League. It wasn't long ago when there was one
league, one champion. The enrollment of your school did not determine
who your opponent was on the field. It was superior performance on the
field that got your team to the playoffs, and it was almost impossible
unless you won 4 of your league games.

Remember the rivalries now gone…

Prep vs. Carroll
Mc Devitt vs. La Salle
O'Hara vs. Carroll
Neumann vs. Bonner


  These are just a few of the many that could be named. Granted, some
rivalry games might still exist in pre-season form, but the atmosphere
is not the same. Gone are the late season games against your
neighborhood rival that determine whether or not your team makes the
playoffs, because a loss would give your opponent the tie-breaker for
the fourth and final playoff spot. Now, all your team has to accomplish
to make the playoffs is to be better than one team on one given Sunday.
This “one win can get you in” methodology of advancing to the playoffs
can happen, if you figure out the math.

  There was a time when even though you had a divisional rival on the field,
you were united with that rival in at least one case because you were
from the Northern or Southern Division. This was back when North vs.
South was more than location. If your team made the playoffs, or better
yet the championship, you actually represented something. You were one
of the best in your division, which was a badge of honor.

  Where are we now? What has realignment done to our once proud league? A
team with a 1-6 record could make the playoffs. Six of the eight
divisional teams make it to the post season. Once great rivalries have
gone by the way side. The brand of football is watered down. The
realignment has succeeded in destroying 80-plus years of
Catholic League Football tradition, and has given us this bastardized
version of a once prominent football league.

  Expanding on that, The Philadelphia Catholic League is no longer a
“league” in a literal sense, but two separate entities that happen to
share some common opponents, playing fields, and All-Catholic Banquet at
the end of the year. The worst of all of the issues created by the
realignment is the absence of one, true champion. Records can be looked
at, statistics can be examined, assumptions can be made, but the
question of whom the best team is can never be unequivocally answered
the one way it should be, which is on the field.

  In order to explore the other side of the realignment, you must first
understand why it was brought upon us football purists in the first
place. The vocal minority objected loud enough to the belief that
because they had fewer boys in their school, that their teams were not
only more at risk for injury, but could not compete with the bigger
schools. Both of these points are as easily disputed as they are
dismissed.

  Apparently, if a player comes from a bigger school, it makes his bones
less likely to be broken and his muscles less likely to be torn. His
durability as a player has nothing to do with his conditioning and
everything to do with how many boys are in his homeroom. Doesn't this
defy both biological science and the age-old creed that “hard work pays
off?” God, why even bother working out, lifting all those weights, and
doing all those extra sprints? The 6'2” 225 pound weight lifting
champion from West will be lost for the season due to injury anyway,
while the 5'9” 155 pound Todd Pinkston wanna-be from Judge will be
healthy all year long. Because, after all, the Judge boy has 44 boys in
his homeroom as opposed the West boy, who has 13.

  Regarding the competition, nothing still has changed. The teams that
were considered the “better” teams are still in fact better, while the
“not as good” teams are still not as good. Without getting specific, it
still remains that every year, the same set of teams are good and the
same set of teams are towards the bottom of the pack. The simple
difference is that now, they have been split up into another division
and given an unworthy opportunity to make the playoffs. To the best of
my memory, there has yet to be a 5th or 6th placed team to win a first
round playoff game. I am not trying to single out teams or imply
anything about individual programs, but the undeniable fact still
remains. Giving four extra teams one more game to their season has hurt
Catholic League Playoff football.

  Furthermore, why only realign in football? Hasn't there been dominance
by certain schools in other sports (Roman in basketball; Carroll in
baseball; La Salle in swimming)? Why should Catholic League Football be
the only sport singled out? Better yet, why not realign in female sports
as well?

  So, what inspired my long-winded diatribe? I deal with former Catholic
Players and Coaches almost everyday. A great deal of them were around
when the Catholic League was still a “league.” I have found myself
explaining how and why the league changed far too many times. I have had
to answer the question “why doesn't team A play team B anymore” more
times than I can count. But, it is the one question that I can't give an
answer to that upsets me the worst of all. The question…”Who won the
Catholic League Championship this year?”

  For most of the readers of this site (still in high school), all of this
may seem like useless banter. That is because you have all played in
this bastardized version of Catholic League football, and this is all
you know. With the national exposure the league now gets with some high
profile teams and nationally renowned athletes that it produces, I know
things could be much worse. But, I guarantee you that things should be a
great deal better. It is a shame that the objections and complaints of
the minority that got realignment pushed through have affected so many
years of tradition. Maybe one day the powers that be will realize that
this was a mis-alignment, and that the Catholic League is no longer a
“league.”

  I welcome any comments, good or bad, via e-mail or through the website.
Joeyd5151@hotmail.com

Congrats to all on a great season.

"The Pulse"