By Pat Brozynski

Fairness thrown out the door in the name of entitlement

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Did anybody else read the column that ran on the CNN Web site the other day about society's fixation on "me?"

The columnist talked about how incidents like those involving Kanye West and Joe Wilson were symptomatic of society's increasing self-centeredness. Putting "me" above "we." "Self-importance" above "self-sacrifice."

This sense of entitlement pervades sports as well. Why else do some people feel the need to reward every student-athlete with a medal, a trophy, a "false" sense of achievement when in fact they have achieved nothing beyond what they are given.

How does this apply to high school volleyball in Illinois?

It has everything to do with the way the Illinois High School Association does business. It's disregard for competitiveness to the benefit of entitlement.

Not enough kids win trophies? Expand classes. Sponsor a state tournament where the best teams survive? Phooey. Create a system where kids who work hard to develop their skills are rewarded? Only if they are geographically correct.

Last week, the regional and sectional assignments for the Illinois High School Association girls state volleyball tournament were posted. As is the case with many other sports, if you're good and you know it, you probably won't get to show it.

Two of the most grievous injustices were committed in Class 3A where the two best downstate Illinois programs, Belleville Althoff and Breese Mater Dei, were assigned to the same five-team regional at Centralia, and the two best 3A programs anywhere, Joliet Catholic and St. Francis, were assigned to the same sectional in Wheaton.

Last year, Althoff and Mater Dei did not meet until the sectional - Mater Dei won 25-18, 23-25, 25-17 - and St. Francis and Joliet Catholic did not meet until the supersectional - JCA won 25-23, 25-27, 25-21.

But somebody felt that other players were "entitled" to regional or sectional titles.

There are other injustices. The Class 4A sectionals featuring Marist, McAuley and Sandburg on the one hand and Hinsdale Central, Benet, Neuqua Valley, Locport and Naperville North on the other come to mind. But there are examples in the smaller classes as well.

Folks in the deep south are angered at the Class 2A Carlyle regional which features defending state champion Freeburg in a five-team field with Breese Central, Carlyle, Nashville and Trenton Wesclin.

The state volleyball tournament is a system which guarantees not that the best teams or the best players are showcased, but that the teams whose addresses fit the IHSA bill are rewarded.

In other words, the IHSA embraces "geographic entitlement."

The IHSA's Sue Hinrichsen, who supervises boys and girls volleyball and has resisted efforts to move the boys finals to a college site like St. Xavier, is retiring at the end of the school year. It may be time for coaches and athletic directors statewide to lobby her successor to address some of the issues hurting the sport, its players and fans.

Of course, it all begins with not the players, coaches, parents or athletic directors, it is up to the folks who really run high school sports in Illinois - the principals. And if you look at their voting records on IHSA referendums, they apparently care about as much about the issues that affect student-athletes as vultures do about where their next meal is coming from.

Someday, the IHSA will get it right. Meanwhile, the rest of us are only "entitled" to our opinions.

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3 Comments

Phil, Since you are in tune with the goings on in the IHSA, perhaps the next time there is a vote coming you can publish some sort of "open letter" that boosters like myself can put before our principal and AD.
It was down-right painful to see some of the teams that made the Elite Eight on the boys side last season.

Phil, have you asked the IHSA why they moved the sectional assignments in 3A like they did? They used to have the winners of the Chicago regionals all come to the "western suburbs" sectional, but this year they moved all of them to the "southern suburbs" sectional. This then required Joliet Catholic, Lemont, and some other top teams to all move to the "western suburbs" sectional, where they'll run into St. Francis- at St. Francis.

Why keep all the Chicago teams together? Can't some go south and some go west? It's already unfair enough that JCA and St. Francis would have to meet in the Supersectional, cramming them into the same sectional- intentionally- seems really unfair. Why not just have the top 10 teams in the state play in just three regionals (which could easily be accomplished) and get it over with sooner?

This maybe unimportant now, but possibly interesting to some. When they first posted the sectional assignments every team was assigned to a specific regional in 3A, so Joliet Catholic and Lemont were in the same regional and Joliet Catholic and St Francis were scheduled to play in the sectional semifinal by the "luck of the draw". I wonder what made them post it and then change it within hours??? I agree with you with the city schools....what a horrible change...plus they have 32 team sectionals. That means every team is going to have to win 3 games to win a regional. Not that it will matter for the few good teams, cause they wont be tested til the sectional final, if that.

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on September 22, 2009 9:26 PM.

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