Opinion

A bad realignment

The decision to split up Rock Hill's high schools and have their athletic teams play in different regions is a travesty, especially in light of the fact that other regions were left intact.

An appeal by the Rock Hill school district to keep Rock Hill and South Pointe high schools in Region 3-AAAA was rejected Aug. 30 by the South Carolina High School League's Executive Committee. The league's realignment, which places those two schools and Lancaster High School in Region 4, will remain in place.

So, in 2008, instead of playing in the same region with Northwestern, Clover, York, Fort Mill and Nation Ford -- York County's other high schools -- they will be competing with schools around Columbia, including Blythewood, Ridge View and Spring Valley.

Local school officials had a compelling case to offer at the appeals hearing. The change will require significantly more travel time for all athletic teams and bands at Rock Hill and South Pointe -- and their fans -- costing the district thousands more dollars a year.

More travel means more risk for students, players and spectators alike. It also makes it more difficult for parents to watch their kids play.

But the primary reason for grouping York County teams in Region 3-AAAA is less tangible than money or miles traveled. It has to do with tradition and the role high school athletics play not only in the lives of the students but also in the community.

Rock Hill and Northwestern have been in the same region since 1972. The rivalries within this region have evolved over decades. When these teams meet, the games can have regional title implications, not to mention a level of emotional involvement that non-region games never could hope to match.

Why would the league devise a plan that fails to serve the interests of the students, the schools or the communities they serve? Why insist on a plan that undermines the quality of sports competition not just in York County but also in the state as a whole?

Perhaps the executive committee was less than dead certain that this was, indeed, the best approach: The appeal was denied by a vote of only 9-5.

Those who oppose this realignment may have a window of opportunity. The new regions won't go into effect this year, leaving time to lobby against the plan.

The school district was railroaded. This is a bad plan.

We hope concerned residents will complain loudly enough to bring about a change of heart on the part of league officials.

IN SUMMARY

York County residents still have time to oppose plan to split county's athletic teams.

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