Entertaining a private matterTAKE 2: Private matter for conferences

Published: Sunday, March 3, 2013 12:02 a.m. CDT

Last week, a reader wrote a letter to the editor asking the Fox Valley Conference to invite Marian Central to join. Sports editor Jon Styf and columnist Tom Musick pontificate on whether that makes sense.

Styf: The Catholic Seven invited two other schools to joint the new Big East Conference. So why can’t the Fox Valley Conference, which hasn’t added a school to replace Johnsburg, add Marian Central? The simple answer is they don’t want to. They made that clear last summer in soliciting applications for one to three “public” schools to join. Now that that part hasn’t worked out, maybe they should change their mind.

Musick: I disagree. Certain things don’t mix well. Heavy-set men and bicycle shorts. Dark chocolate and barbecue sauce. And, in this case, public schools and private schools in the same athletic conference.

Styf: But think about the children Tom. Or the Woodstock taxpayers. Sure would be nice to have that short bus trip to Marian Central for both of Woodstock’s public high schools in every sport. I’m betting this is ultimately a football issue. The opening is in the Fox Division and Fox Division teams simply won’t want to lose to Marian Central on a regular basis. It’s like when we debate every week, you go into this knowing you’re going to lose.

Musick: Foul! I call foul! (Are we allowed to call fouls in this debate? If so, do I get free throws?) Either way, from as far as I can tell, the only argument for inviting Marian to the conference is because of geography. That ignores the bigger issue, which is that Marian is able to recruit and draw from a much different pool of students than all of the other schools in the Fox Valley Conference. It’s apples and oranges.

Styf: They compete against each other in the playoffs, why would the regular season be different? Marian Central would have, this year, probably won the Fox Division in football and fencing. I’m not sure what else. The assumption is that Marian is going out and stealing good athletes from the public schools. I just don’t see it. Kids have a choice. Families can move. If you want to play for a certain school, even public, you’ll find a way to do that.

Musick: I probably would have missed those free throws, anyway. But regardless of whether Marian “steals” certain student-athletes – I don’t know whether they do or not – the point is that private schools do not have to play by the same rules as public schools when it comes to enrollment. Public schools admit students of all abilities, be it academic, athletic or anything else, whereas private schools pick and choose which students to admit. They’re not starting from the same place, which is why they shouldn’t be in the same conference.

• Write to Jon Styf at jstyf@shawmedia.com and follow him on Twitter @JonStyf. Write to Tom Musick at tmusick@shawmedia.com and follow him on Twitter @tcmusick.

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