COLUMN: An Aram special on re-leaguing … when grown ups act like kids, common sense is cast aside

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
There’s nothing like the re-leaguing process to bring out the high school kid in even the most respected administrators among us.
Oh yes, every four years principals, athletic directors and in some cases even superintendents get together and put on a display befitting something you might see in the quad any day of the week during a lunchtime quarrel between jilted teenaged lovers and their respective groups of friends.
Alliances are formed. Enemies are made. Scapegoats are manufactured.
Certain evidence is cast aside. Success (popularity) is punished and the end result of all of this is new-look leagues for our local sports teams to compete in.

That’s where we’re at now and over the next several weeks. What local sports fans are about to see should be a real doozy.

Ahh, where to begin? How about the Hacienda League? You know, the seven-team league that was formed four years ago when the Miramonte and San Antonio leagues dissolved and Diamond Bar was relieved from the Sierra League.

Notably absent from the Hacienda were the Miramonte and San Antonio league football powerhouses of Charter Oak and South Hills.

You see, they were way too good to stay competing against like schools.

They simply had to be moved to the Sierra League, which subsequently led to them being placed in the Inland Division, where all hopes of postseason success for either school evaporated.

Their crime? Football success.

Nothing more and nothing less. Despite evidence being presented at the time that across-the-board results from all sports actually made Bonita and Diamond Ranch the better candidates to be moved, the administrators made their minds up that bullies only existed in one sport … that is until now.

When the Hacienda League puts together its proposals for re-leaguing shortly, it’s expected that the schools in the league are going to recommend Bonita be shipped out. Why? The Bearcats are too good across the board in all sports.

But wait a sec, going by the logic used four years ago, it should be West Covina which is sent on its merry way. After all, the Bulldogs have won or shared the football league title every year that the Hacienda has been in existence and they’ve also won two CIF championships and were in the semifinals.

Sounds like a Charter Oak/South Hills situation to me.

West Covina isn’t on the chopping block, though, and Bonita is. The reason is because this time around some of the same people who used a football-only argument last time now prefer to view athletic programs through a wide lens.

The CIF-Southern Section policy is to let leagues shape their own futures while following no real set of guidelines other than enrollment, competitive equity and geography. As a result, this is the kind of mess we’re left with.

Wherever principals and athletic directors get their feelings hurt the most, whether it be solely on the football field or across all athletic platforms, that’s where they want change.

There is no mathematical formula that principals and athletic directors are forced to follow. Some do use math, but it’s often just to support one point while overlooking many others.

And yet imagine a system in which emotions and hand-chosen arguments were disallowed in favor of a formula that simply assigned a weighted points value to a league championship in each sport.

Mine would look something like this: football (3 points), boys basketball (2 points), baseball (2 points) and one point for league championships in all other sports. All girls sports would be worth one point each.

Add up the numbers and then determine who really needs relief and who should be thrown to the wolves elsewhere. Sure, there would be some gray areas, but what’s being used now and in the past is bringing out the teenager in everyone involved and it looks Bonita might be the next school to suffer.

Yet it’s hard to feel bad for Bonita because it was part of the collaboration that got Charter Oak and South Hills sent away.

Lost in all of this is that the powers-that-be don’t seem to realize the San Gabriel Valley is a unique place. Teams from this area don’t fit in with those in the Inland Empire.

So when you send Glendora to the Baseline League/Inland Division, South Hills to the Sierra League/Inland Division and presumably now Bonita to the Sierra or Baseline League and the Inland Division, you’re basically punishing success for the sake of not wanting to find a way to simply get better.

Plenty of damage was done four years ago, and if a better way to decipher what our local leagues should look like isn’t found, then rest assured plenty more damage is on the way.

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