The Fox Valley Conference, home to most of McHenry County’s high school athletic teams, has been principled, saying it is only open to adding a public school when Johnsburg leaves the conference after the 2013-14 school year.
Now, it is time for the FVC to get sensible and change that thinking to invite Marian Central to join the conference.
The playing field is inherently uneven when private and public school are matched. But that does not necessarily make it unfair.
The IHSA puts the two groups together for its playoffs, using a playoff multiplier. In many sports, that system has worked.
The FVC needs to find a way to make things work with one of the area’s few private high schools. It makes sense on too many levels to ignore.
It starts with saving on transportation costs – for the schools and fans. It also will help foster healthy, natural rivalries for area students.
As it is, Marian must traverse suburban Chicago regularly to compete in the Suburban Catholic Conference while schools like Woodstock and Woodstock North are set for potential crossover football games against Northern Illinois Big 12 conference teams to make up for the loss of Johnsburg.
That means FVC teams will need to drive as far as Geneseo – 288 miles round trip from Woodstock North – for a regular-season game instead of facing Marian Central, two miles down Raffel Road from Woodstock North.
“I have not heard anything from the FVC,” Marian Central athletic director Mike McGovern said. “I do talk to their ADs every day about scheduling, but nobody has mentioned anything.”
Marian Central has played a Woodstock school only three times in football. Woodstock won in 1991, and Marian beat Woodstock in 1962 and Woodstock North last fall. The last two, at least, were well-attended, exciting games.
The FVC should be inviting competition that will engage the community. Instead, the conference is purposefully turning its back.
The no-private-school stance and the notion that Marian Central would be unfair competition is ready for a fresh look.