Dan Stevens
Staff Writer

In 2009, Newport Harbor men’s water polo lost freshman Jon Walters after a phenomenal freshman season. After this season, he transferred to Mader Dei. Since then, Mader Dei has won the CIF Division 1 championships for the last three years straight. We see transfers like this often. In football, Sam Bush transferred from Harbor to, none other than, Mader Dei. This is not a judgment of the individuals making the choices to leave; it is rather a question of fairness in high school sports. Because different rules apply to public and private high schools in the realm of sports, is it fair that they should be placed in the same divisions together for competition?

Out of 1522 High Schools in California, 92% of them are public institutions. This means that they receive federal funding and therefore have stricter rules placed on them by the government than do private schools. These private schools make up the remaining 8% of high schools in the state. Private schools in large part enjoy financial benefits of tuition, donations and endowments from alum and, because of this, they are free to spend more money on facilities, coaches and equipment. According to Steve Fryer, writer for the OC Register, “Of the 20 basketball teams playing in CIF State Championships [this past March], 17 are private schools.” In addition, CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod recently wrote a newsletter explaining that public and private schools compete on the same playing field. It is vanilla, politically correct and appears to be more of a c.y.a. mission than an explanation. He argues equality but, as one can see from this year’s basketball State Championships, the results appear far from it.


Though there are many private schools that spend their money differently, it is not fair when private schools can allocate more funds toward athletics than public schools can, yet they still compete on the same playing field. I realize that there are schools like Sage Hill or OCHSA that are better known for their outstanding nonathletic achievements. However, the question still is: with the availability of monies for better coaches, facilities and equipment for private schools, why is it fair for them to be subjected to the same playing field as public schools in the realm of athletics?

More importantly are the demographics that each school can draw from. Newport Harbor draws students from the cities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa that don’t go to CDM, Costa Mesa, Estancia or elsewhere. It’s about a five mile radius. However, non-government regulated private schools can draw students from their city, around their state, or planet Mars. This opens up the floodgates to much controversy as recruiting can become nightmarish for these 13 year olds searching for their school of choice. Kent Inoue, junior, and water polo player on the USA junior national team, would have attended Los Alamitos High School if not for Mader Dei’s strong athletic incentives to go there. This is an example of an issue that potentially causes public schools to lose prodigies that would otherwise stick with it.

How does one combat this issue? One suggestion has been to create separate divisions for public and private schools in high school sports. According to Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee, Texas and New York have already implemented separate state championships for public and private schools, why shouldn’t California? Another argument presents the government inserting itself further by implementing and monitoring the same rules for both public and private schools. Or, as many seem to agree, it’s time to stop complaining. The rules haven’t changed since CIF has been made, neither should we, they say. Overall, I feel that if there were separate divisions for public and private schools in high school sports, there would be fewer lopsided championship ratios and players would be much more content competing on the playing field they can.

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