Yesterday, the Post Gazette reported that the Pittsburgh City League has asked the WPIAL to accept four schools as associate members in certain sports. Here is the article: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11348/1196669-363.stm
I think this is a great idea for three reasons:
1. It allows those schools best able to compete in the WPIAL to finally get their wish to compete against quality competition they normally don't see in the City. I'll use Allderdice as an example.
The eleven sports that Allderdice would compete in the WPIAL: Boys and Girls Swimming; Boys and Girls Tennis; Golf; Boys and Girls Cross Country; Baseball; and Boys and Girls Soccer, are sports that Allderdice has dominated since the school opened in 1927.
Boys Swimming started 1920-21; Allderdice has won 46 City Titles
Girls Swimming started 1973-74 Allderdice has won 35 straight City Titles
Boys Tennis started 1946-47 Allderdice won 48 overall and 28 straight City Titles
Girls Tennis started 1974-75 Allderdice won 34 overall and 15 straight titles
Golf started 1937-38 Allderdice 62 overall and 15 straight titles
Boys Cross Country started 1929 Allderdice won 24 overall and 16 straight titles
Girls Cross Country 1977-78 Allderdice won 24 overall and 12 straight titles
Baseball started 1922-23 Allderdice won 13 overall and 3 straight titles
Softball started 1976-77 Allderdice won 8 overall titles
Boys Soccer 1988-89 Allderdice won 21 of 24 titles contested.
Girls Soccer 1988-89 Allderdice won 11 of 24 titles contested.
In all those sports since 1927, Allderdice has won 326 City League titles. In these sports they have had little if any competition from City League opponents. Our coaches are always trying to find decent competition, because these kids aren't being challenged in the City in these sports. Allowing Allderdice to join the WPIAL in these sports will allow those kids to be challenged week in and week out. Also with Allderdice not competing in City competition in these sports, this should allow other City League schools who for whatever reason have not decided to compete in these sports to put teams together and they will have a better shot at winning a title.
2. It'll allow for City Championships to be played in those sports where the disparity between the haves and the have-nots is much less, as well as the sports that people are interested in, or that the gap between the City and the WPIAL is too great at this time: Football; Basketball; Track and Field; Volleyball and Wrestling. I'd argue that Allderdice and Perry should be allowed to join the WPIAL in boys hoops and the 'Dice and Westinghouse should be allowed to join in girl's hoops because those programs can compete reasonably well against the WPIAL.
3. As much as I'd like to see the City join the WPIAL in all sports, I believe that at least in football, it would be years maybe decades before a City League team could do well enough to contend for a WPIAL title. Can you imagine Allderdice and Brashear playing AAAA ball against Central Catholic, Upper St. Clair, and North Allegheny? Even in the crazy WPIAL playoff system that allows teams with < .500 conference records into the playoffs, I don't see a City squad making the playoffs even as a conference #4 seed. Basketball, however has more potential for City League schools to make an impact. Also, this approach might also act as a gradual transition towards full participation in the WPIAL. But for now, because of the bad record that the City League has in state playoffs in most sports, the kids have to have something to attain and be proud of. There has to something tangible for City League kids to strive for. That's where those City Championships come in.
This plan isn't perfect, but I think that it's the best for right now. This will give a school like Allderdice which is the most "WPIAL-like" school in the City in terms of athletic excellence the chance to finally test itself against good competition in those sports it dominates, while still competing for that coveted City Title in the more popular and evenly balanced sports.
(Author's Note: Since this post, the WPIAL has approved the City League's proposal and will accept Allderdice, Brashear, Carrick and Obama Academy as associate members in the sports listed above.)