Everyone Gets To Win: A Bad Idea For High Schools


The Idaho High School Activities Association made changes to the way conferences will be classified. Whether change was needed or not is another question. However, I find the solution flawed.

Once based on enrollment numbers, the IHSAA is now taking into consideration the competitiveness of a school’s athletic programs as a whole. If a school doesn’t enough in all sports over a two-year period, it can petition the IHSAA board to move down a classification so it might win more. It’s the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. I thought we gave up that attitude when we hit junior high school.

Basing a football matchup on the success of a school’s softball or track program doesn’t make sense. As Timberline football coach Ian Smart told KTIK on Wednesday, Columbia has a potential 5A state championship wrestling team that will compete at the 4A level in 2018. That’s not fair to anyone except Columbia.

In June, the IHSAA was looking into a proposal from Caldwell High Athletic Director Josh Hegstad. It would have taken into account competitive history and the socio-economic status of the school. I like that idea better, but would add at least one more factor; participation numbers. It makes sense to me that a school with more students involved in athletics has a better chance to succeed.

So here’s the J.P. Plan, taking into account all of the following equally:

  • Enrollment numbers
  • Student participation numbers
  • Socio-economic status of the school
  • Competitive criteria over a three-year period

In the end, the reclassification numbers might come out the same. If the goal is to make the playing field more equal, then the IHSAA must take into account more than enrollment numbers and winning percentages. Otherwise, let’s just give out participation ribbons instead of state championship trophies.


John “JP’’ Patrick produces Idaho Sports Talk with Caves & Prater weekdays from 3-6 p.m. on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket. He can be found @JPKTIK (Twitter).