Avoid Long Term Ramifications: RIIL Should Deny Cranston Team Consolidation

Cranston’s recent proposal to merge school sports is currently being weighed by the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. John Gilooly explains why allowing such a merger would set a bad precedent:

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.

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11 years ago

If the RIIL doesn’t want the schools to merge, two in the same city, then they can pay for the sports at one of the schools.
If they really care about the opportunities, then why not require all varsity sports at all schools?
Does Title 9 apply to HS athletics? I was reading up on it a couple days ago and couldn’t find anywhere that it referred to anything other than colleges.

11 years ago

1) RE: RIIL paying. You’re missing the point. Cranston is a member of the RIIL and has to abide by their rules, unless they can get a waiver. The RIIL isn’t forcing anyone’s hand here. It’s my contention that it’s not up to the RIIL to bail out Cranston school administrators, it’s up to the people of Cranston to make choices–via the ballot box, attend school board budget meetings BEFORE crisis hits, etc. That even includes paying user fees for sports. Or not. Again, it’s a Cranston problem, not an RIIL one. Unless the RIIL makes it their problem….in which case Gilooly’s warning is relevant.
2) Title IX applies to High School.

Mark Conway
Mark Conway
11 years ago

This is the beginning of the end for Cranston. What an unbelievable turn of events for Cranston. This is disgusting when you consider that Mike Traficante, the Chairman of the Cranston school committee, was the football coach at Cranston East, winning a state championship, as well as the wrestling coach. Cranston School Department director of personnel, Ray Votto, was a big high school athlete, in Cranston. The suprintendant of schools, Peter Nero, was a big high school athlete in Cranston. That these individuals are at the helm, in power, when the sports programs in Cranston are being dismantled, is nothing short of a grotesque display of absolute cowardice. That they are so quick to screw the kids instead of going where everyone knows the money is, is obsene. The amount of money they are talking about – $124,000 – to keep the strings in the schools, the choir, the enrichment program, the sports – is one-tenth of one percent!!…of the $126,000,000 budget. Are you serious that they can’t find that money? That is a rounding error! Of course, they trot out the lame, tired excuse that “the courts made us do it” Yes, once again, they lost in court because they couldn’t make the case for wasting millions of dollars that never even went to the kids. They will claim that “their hands are tied”, thinking we can’t see that it is their own gross incompetence that tied their hands. All you need to look at is the makeup of the school committee to see that the kids were screwed from the start. Chairman Mike Traficante works for the New England Laborers Union. Andrea Ianazzi’s lives at home with her father, Don Ianazzi, business agent for the Laborers union – he of Cranston crossing guard fame. Union sympathizer Paula McFarland’s… Read more »

11 years ago

I would think it could also be argued that both buildings are “Cranston High School”, one is the “east” campus, the other is the “west”. They are the same school. It’s completely different than if Cumberland and Lincoln merged or Middletown and Newport.
Yeah, the schools may have the east and west in their names, but that’s nothing a little duct tape and whiteout can’t fix to make them both “Cranston High School”.
As for Mark, lots of “for the children” being trotted out. So if the school administration instead cuts out a teacher or two, what amounts to about the price you cited, and keep sports, then they’d be doing it “for the children”?
This is just a typical argument to get parents riled up even to the point of getting them to vote for their own big tax increase. Cutting sports is always the first way to get people excited. It seems to be working.

11 years ago

Don’t ask me how this became a union issue. It’s purely about competitiveness and opportunity.
This should only be done in extreme cases where programs are at stake due to lack of numbers, such as the North Providence-Johnston hockey merger. They got hit with injuries last year, kids quit, and they only had 9-10 bodies to put on the ice.
That’s a recipe not only for bad losses, but more injuries.

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