New Castle News

March 25, 2014

Greg Huston: The private vs. public school and pay to play debates

Greg Huston
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — •It’d be nice if the WPIAL and/or PIAA would step in and give public schools, especially the small ones, the fair chance they once had at winning championships, at both the district and state level. While three public schools did win state championships this past weekend between boys and girls, including the New Castle boys and the Blackhawk girls, all three winners were in either Class AAAA or AAA. There were no public school winners in Class AA and A basketball in both boys and girls, continuing a trend of private schools dominating small public schools. The same was true at the WPIAL level, with no Class AA or A public school girls or boys teams winning a district championship this year, and only one winning last year (Beaver Falls boys). Winning a championship is supposed to be about a community coming together as one, as New Castle did, but that dream is fast fading away for small, public schools.

•After one week of the NCAA tournament, we’re now down to the Sweet 16. My Florida pick is still alive, and my favorite team, Arizona, looked better than I thought possible. I will have to admit that the first weekend was exciting, thrilling and filled with good to even great games. The Kentucky and Wichita State game was one of the best of the weekend, with big shot after big shot in a see-saw game. To be fair, most of those big shots were hit by the Shockers of Wichita State, while Kentucky seemed to get an obscene amount of foul shots down the stretch, which helped the Wildcats pull out the victory. That’s too bad, because the Shockers had to be everybody’s favorite no-name team to root for, even if they did have that number one seed.

•There is a great debate being waged on whether the student-athletes that make the NCAA basketball tournament such a big deal should be paid beyond their scholarship. It’s a worthwhile debate since literally billions of dollars are at stake for the schools and the NCAA, who also rake in money on college football as well. It’s a complex argument with many different moving parts, including amateurism, scholarships, equality for all sports and many other issues. But at the end of the day, people watch the games and advertisers sponsor them because of the players, and it just doesn’t seem right that they see none of that money. A scholarship is nice, but not as nice as the millions of dollars going into the pockets of those who run the show.

•Some are wondering if the Steelers will bring back linebacker James Harrison, now that he is no longer with the Cincinnati Bengals. It seems to me that there is no reason to not bring him in and at least kick the tires to see what’s left. There are no backups behind Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds, and he can’t be worse than what’s left on the market or in the draft. If he can’t play anymore, the Steelers can cut him loose with no hit on their already stretched thin salary cap. Either way, the Steelers are a long way from an elite team, with or without James Harrison.

(Questions or comment? Email me at: hustongregor@hotmail.com)