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Our View: Private school recruiters create unfair playing field

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Going deep into the playoffs is any high school basketball player's dream but the mechanism behind fulfilling that dream is broken and needs to be fixed. The issue of private and public schools playing by different rules to recruit their teams needs to be examined more closely, with the idea of evening an increasingly more tilted playing surface of paramount importance. The system is currently being exploited by schools and coaches that are putting mercenary attitudes above more important values that put the student ahead of the athlete in the student-athlete equation. The first thing to make note of is that the Forest Lake Christian School boys varsity team of the Lake of the Pines area in Nevada County should be congratulated for their first section title. The fourth-seeded boys claimed the Division V title, winning every game in the section playoffs by at least 18 points, and doing it with a squad of home-grown talent. Travel a few miles east though and you'll find a school ” this time a publicly financed one in Colfax ” that had an outstanding year but ran up against what can only be described as a glorified AAU traveling team in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV boys championship game. Colfax lost 85-56 to Modesto Christian, a private school that is allowed to recruit from basically wherever it wants to. The result of those free-and-easy recruiting practices was a team that starts four student-athletes bound for Division 1-A college teams. Its two stars are heading to Pac-10 teams. Colfax High School's Falcons faced difficult odds and other public high schools ” limited by out-of-district recruiting rules ” are feeling the same hurt in a sport that preaches fair play but tips the scales in the direction of private schools. Two of five section champions in boys basketball this year were from the private sector. The private-school dominance was even more prevalent on the girls' side, where four out of five schools winning championships were private. The fix is a simple one. Break up the public and private schools into two divisions and two championships. It's really like an amateur league and a professional league, when it comes down to it. If a private school wants to stay within a set recruitment boundary, then it can continue to compete against public schools. Student athletes will adjust, although it may be harder for coaches and administrators in schools like Modesto Christian hungry for championship pennants. The court has tilted too far in one direction to make current title quests relevant and rewarding for the athletes it's intended to serve. Let's bring the joy back to a game that rewards hard work and team play ” not recruiting efforts by coaches and athletes eager to find a program that will put their individual skills in the spotlight for college recruiters.