When it comes to competition-based endeavors, the point is to be the best. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about sports or business. The goal is to crush your competition. Is it fair that success in a given market isn’t divided up evenly so nobody feels left out? No. Not at all. But competition isn’t about making everyone feel all warm and fuzzy. The scoreboard is the thing that matters.
When it comes to division 4A high school sports in the state of Kansas, there is none better than Bishop Miege. Miege is a private school which owns football, basketball, soccer and track in Kansas. The athletics department at Miege is doing what every school in the state should aspire to do and that is to dominate. While Miege couldn’t be happier about its on-field success, there are others who believe the level of success enjoyed by Miege is not fair. Jeff Hines is one of those people.
Hines is the athletics director at Paola High. Paola is a public high school in Kansas and in direct competition with Miege. Instead of pushing his coaches to be better, Hines is asking the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) to implement a multiplier rule.
If your public school isn’t able to compete against its private counterparts, Hines has a solution for that. He wants to legislate success. That’s right. In the mind of some people, there’s nothing crony capitalism can’t fix and that includes success in high school sports. Here is Hines in his own words describing the situation that plagues the underachieving public high school athletics programs in the state of Kansas:
“Look, Miege has been a thorn in our side,” said Hines, whose school competes in the same classification. “They’re winning way more than any school should. I want to make it clear that I’m not accusing Miege of going out and recruiting kids. I’m not saying that. But what I’m saying is the private schools that are attached to large major metro areas naturally attract a different caliber athlete.”
When Hines says that Miege is “…winning way more than any school should” he’s implying that the school is taking more than its fair share of success. He would have a point if Miege was doing anything against the rules set by the KSHSAA, but in his owns words Miege is playing by the rules. Paola High is unable to compete against a private institution and the only solution is to regulate Miege into the mediocrity that Paola wallows in. It’s as if Atlas Shrugged is taking place in Kansas as Hines advocates for his own Equalization of Opportunity Bill.
Hines does present a perplexing question. Who decides how much winning an individual school gets to enjoy? Based on his actions, I’d say that he believes it’s the governing body of Kansas high school sports. Hines believes that success is something that should be rationed. And what better way to ration success than to regulate the market. Regulate, regulate, regulate.
News flash – True success cannot be regulated.
Kansas is not the only state struggling with competitive balance reform. Ohio is implementing regulations in the name of competitive balance for the 2017-2018 school year. The regulations being imposed upon the private Ohio schools are for all of the same reasons Hines wants the private Kansas schools regulated. Private schools just win too much in Ohio and that success needs to be rationed.
But you know what regulation is good for? Artificially tipping the scales in favor of an entity chosen by a governing body. And that is precisely what Hines is attempting to do with his proposal. He is asking the KSHSAA to change the rules in order to make Miege ineligible for 4A competition. If he is successful, Paola High could start benefiting from the rationed success Hines believes is rightfully his and Miege becomes the problem of the Kansas 5A division.
And what happens if Miege adapts to 5A sports and continues its winning ways? Will an athletics director representing a public 5A school demand that Miege be cast off so the public school can enjoy the spoils of rationed success? Once success is regulated and rationed, there is no end in sight. Regulation becomes a never ending spiral.
The never-ending spiral of regulation has one end in sight and that is perpetual mediocrity for all. Sure, the Miege dynasty will have been extinguished from 4A sports in Kansas, but what will the remaining schools have to strive for? The coaches at those schools will know that they can do the bare minimum and still be able to win a championship. But in winning those regulated championships, the quality of the product will have been diluted. Does a championship that is rationed have true meaning? I say it doesn’t.
E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.