Yesterday's vote by the principals of member schools of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association changed high school football as we know it.

And, not for the better.

The principals voted to create separate divisions for the high school football playoffs, splitting the schools into "select" and "non-select" categories.  Non-select are the public schools.  Select are private, parochial, magnet and charter schools.

This has been coming for quite some time.  Public school administrators, coaches and fans have been crying for years about an uneven playing field where select schools could pick and choose the enrollment they wanted based on athletic ability among other things.  Public schools called it "recruiting."

I'm not going to get into that argument, except to say there are plenty of ways for public schools to get around the zoning rules that cover high school athletics.  And, frequently, they do.

Pot, meet kettle.

But putting all that aside, my question is, "so what?"

If you look at the last 35 state champions in high school football (that's every year since Hurricane Katrina changed the landscape), 18 have been won by select schools.  Ten of those schools have been named John Curtis or Evangel Christian, and it's obvious that all of this was put into place because of them.

And, again, my question is "so what?"

You'll find schools in every state that are dominant in high school football.  Some of them are private schools.  Some are public schools.  Even in Louisiana, that's the case.  It's not like West Monroe isn't a public school or anything like that.

No, this is a case of public school officials crying foul and wanting to take their ball and go home.  And, frankly, they look pitiful to me.

WAAAAHHHHHH, they are not playing fair.  WAHHHHHH, they can cheat and we can't.  WAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Schools will continue to play each other based on geographical districts they always have.  And, non select schools will still have to beat the big (and in many cases, rich) bullies in order to win a district title.  But now, when it's time to play for the real prize, the state football championship, a third of the football playing membership need not apply.

High school principals watered down the system years ago when they voted for a five classificaton system instead of the four that were in place.  Hey, more teams make the playoffs.  More state champions are crowned.

Wow!!!  Everyone gets a trophy!  Let's all hold hands and sing Kumbaya!!!

So now, instead of five state champions we will have seven.  The five non-select classifications remain the same, except with a LOT fewer teams to select from for the playoffs.  (Kumbaya).  Meanwhile, the select schools will have two divisions.  One champion will come from the combination of 5A, 4A and 3A.  The other will come from 2A and 1A.

More trophies!!! Kumbaya!!!

But with this split, the public schools have said to the Notre Dames, Parkview Baptists, Rummels and Jesuits, "Hey YOU go play John Curtis and Evangel."  We'll pick our own champions."

Except to many, they won't be champions at all, except on paper.

Remember just a couple of years ago?  St. Thomas More defeated Acadiana during the regular season only to be trounced by the Wrecking Rams in the state semifinals.  Under the new system, the two schools would not have played in the playoffs.  Acadiana may have won the state championship that year, but St. Thomas More fans would be pointing a finger and calling them paper champions.

And, they'd have a point.  Which is why this decision is so bad on so many fronts.

It's one thing to make inclusion to where more teams get the chance to play for a title.  It's another to shun deserving schools and make them go somewhere else to play.  What is this, separate but equal?  No it isn't.  It's separate and stupid.

Because what the public school principals did with this vote is to look at their coaches, parents and, most of all players and say "you aren't good enough to do it on the field, so we're making separate rules so you can look better."

I'm not sure that's the message that was intended.  But it's the reality.  It's saying "you can't compete" when, in effect it's been shown time and time again that these teams can...and do.

Bad message.  Bad. Bad. Bad

There's an irony here.  The proposal was submitted by the principal from Winnfield High School, who, under quarterback Thomas King, won a state championship back in 1982.

They beat John Curtis.