Time For Real Ontario School Championships
I think it's time that the folks at the Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Associations finally does the right thing: gets serious about provincial championships. Either that, or stop misleading the public by calling them finals involving the best teams. They are not.
Having four levels of competition for some sports is an experiment that went whacky. There is widespread disappointment from schools, coaches, athletes and parents (I get the e-mail and calls from people because OFSAA won't listen) that these provincial playoffs are watered down just to be politically correct or serve as a cash flow for OFSAA.
Playoffs for big, not so big, small and really small population schools, means more teams - and more money to the OFSAA pot. It's also more money by taxpayers to send teams from all over the province to various locations. The various OFSAA playoffs rarely have the best teams.
Teams that are not league champs, and in some cases with below .500 records, getting to OFSAA playoffs is anything but education in sport. It also makes it more like an invitational tournament than a bonafide Ontario championship. Blow outs in games also don't come across well and Friendship Games -- that's what OFSAA calls it when losing teams play losing teams at some playoffs -- is hokey.
Let's look at boys' hockey, for example, and the private schools - another sore spot with some people who are clearly against private schools competing at OFSAA. Stories surface about how some schools in the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association attract students. Some people also refer to it as recruiting. The CISAA will send two teams - from its six-school league - to the OFSAA hockey playoffs next month in St. Catharines.
One of them won't be Nichols as OFSAA knows better than to have a Buffalo school compete for an Ontario title. By the way, Nichols finished one point behind St. Andrew's of Aurora in the regular season. St. Andrew's, for the past few years, just doesn't want to have anything to do with OFSAA hockey playoffs. So, that leaves Appleby, Upper Canada, St. Michael's and Ridley - and only Appleby has a winning record.
Two of Appleby, Upper Canada or St. Michael's will be going to the Quad/Triple-A and/or Double/Single-A playoffs. Some leagues, with 10 or more teams, will only send one team. Confused? Yup, so are lots of people. The folks at Ridley, with its 1-12-2 record, should put up a case for going since the school is from St. Catharines. Hey OFSAA, that'll boost crowds and the Tigers might even be better than some of the other teams actually at the event.
Time to have one championship in a sport. Time to send just the best team from the league to an Ontario final. That's the way it was for years. The way OFSAA now does it for swimming, track and field and various other sports.