Today, we tackle something of a sensitive subject.
Is North Coast Section football a competitive playing field for every school?
At this point in the season, every high school football team shares the same dream. Everyone believes they can make the playoffs, and every team has a road map that ends in the NCS championship game. For some teams, the dream is plausible. A couple big plays here and there, and they’ll end up playing for a championship.
For many teams though, that dream has never been further from reality.
Here are the facts. Only two public schools from west of the Caldecott Tunnel have won NCS football titles since Kennedy-Richmond did it in 1988. If you guessed the 2008 Encinal Jets and the 2006 Hayward Farmers (they won an East Bay title before losing to Cardinal Newman), you’re on the ball.
No team from East Contra Costa County has won a title since 1991, when Pittsburg beat De La Salle. Sure, most of those schools are in Division I (or, the artist formerly known as 4A), and beating the Spartans seems harder than ever these days. Still, if you tried to beat the odds by picking someone else in recent years, you lost.
The question I have is why do schools that traditionally underachieve continue to do so? And, is it in the section’s interest to promote parity?
Recently, we’ve seen the NFL become a more level playing field. There are fewer teams in the bottom echelon of the league, and dynasties are becoming fewer by the year. The league’s popularity has never been greater, and it dominates any sports talk show you may listen to. Clearly, parity is fueling interest.
So, would it benefit the North Coast Section to help these underachieving teams to become more competitive?
I think the answer to my question, in theory, is yes. Better competition means more interest from the entire East Bay (and the Redwood Empire). The question is how do you encourage improvement from these schools that either A. Have administrators that could care less about interscholastic sports (and there are some, don’t kid yourself) or B. Have parents that don’t take an active role in their kid’s schooling?
Maybe one day, I’ll figure out the answer to the question. What I know is that for a lot of schools, it’s just not working. The blame doesn’t necessarily lie with the NCS. Maybe it lies with administrators who just don’t care. Or with extenuating circumstances that can’t be overcome (lack of players, etc.). All I know is that it would benefit kids throughout the East Bay to see these schools turn things around.