One of my favorite memories from high school was playing soccer in front of a packed house in Pan American stadium in New Orleans in the playoffs.
Before the game I looked up in the stands and not only my parents, but my cousins, aunts, uncles and even some of my friends.
It was the most exhilarating experience of my life and something I will never get.
While memories were definitely forged Friday during the Select version of the LHSAA football state championships, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something missing.
With a 10 a.m. start time, the stadium only truly filled up with students for the night games.
And while it looked like most of Notre Dame’s parents were able to take off of work to attend the game, putting people in that position when it doesn’t need to be done seems selfish.
And ultimately, that’s what the split between the Select and Non-Select LHSAA schools comes down to.
We’ve lost track of what amateur and specifically high school athletics is all about.
It isn’t about money. It isn’t about certain schools getting frustrated because certain students decide to attend a different school that perhaps gives them a better opportunity to succeed athletically or academically.
It’s about providing the best opportunity for these kids — still 13-18 years old — to grow into the best possible young men in the best possible environment.
Does it matter if that happens at a public or private school?
No one else is being hurt by forcing kids to attend certain schools other than the kids who want to join some of their friends they play club sports with in offseason.
It all comes down to money for the public schools that advocated for the split and still think this system works despite the results of the last couple of years.
No one wants a 10-team bracket where there is only two games in the first round, just like no wants the potential of only two playoff home games after earning a top seed.
And fans definitely don’t want to see teams without a win on the season offered up like lambs on the alter to the top seeds in the first round.
The quality of the product is diminished on both sides and again the only people who benefit are the few schools that get one extra playoff game because the teams that have traditionally beat them in the first round are now in the Select brackets.
The electricity in the Superdome only reached its peak at key moments in the game, and during Southern Lab’s demolition of St. Mary’s — not the most exciting game to be fair — was almost non-existent.
It’s clear to me the split in football continues to rob these student athletes of the experience they deserve in their state championship week.
Gone are the days where casual fans might scoop up a ticket to go watch the pinnacle of high school football, replaced by a weekend that is merely a shell of its former glory.
I don’t know if the rural and metro plan is the answer, but I do know that it can’t any worse than the joke of a system we currently have.
We preach to these kids that the student part of student athlete is the most important, meanwhile administrators and grown ups argue over school lines while chasing a dollar.
It’s time to stop quibbling over the small things and put the student athlete — the whole reason why we play high school sports — back at the forefront.