Avoid Long Term Ramifications: RIIL Should Deny Cranston Team Consolidation
The problem I see is that as an association of individual high schools, if the Principals Committee allows two high schools from the same city to combine teams as a cost-saving measure, it would be hard pressed in the future to prohibit schools from two different local governments to combine some teams to save money.
Hopefully, the people in Scituate and Smithfield or Middletown and Newport never think this way, but if the precedent is set, how could the Interscholastic League not allow neighboring small communities, as well as other large cities, to save money in hard financial times by combining teams?
The result would be fewer opportunities for state’s high school students to reap the whole spectrum of benefits that come from playing for a high school varsity athletic team.
That goes against the 78-year mission of the R.I. Interscholastic League.
Trying to make the best of a bad situation by allowing team consolidation for the purpose of giving more kids the opportunity to play–while noble sounding–is a flawed, short-term fix. For while this something-is-better-than-nothing solution would save a few sports in one community, the long-term ramifications would be detrimental to student athletes in Rhode Island. As Gilooly explains, this seemingly pragmatic approach, if authorized by the RIIL, could be used by communities across the state to justify cutting and combining sports, which would mean fewer spots for student athletes.
Such unintended consequences stemming from a purported fix in school athletics isn’t unprecedented: the Education policy known as Title IX–which seeks to equal the playing field for female and male participation in school sports–is often used by schools to justify cutting boys sports to help maintain that equity. It’s easier to cut men’s baseball at Providence College, for instance, than to add and fund a new sport for women athletes, you see. The goal may be admirable, but there’s no guarantee that the means to achieving will be quite what we’d hoped.
Finally, when viewed from a political angle, the RIIL shouldn’t bail out Cranston for its self-made budgetary and fiscal problems. It’s up to Cranston parents and voters to exercise their power and remind the politicians of what the priorities should be, one way or another.