Even though individual schools may have to decide, SVC as a whole needs to stay put

In a time where college conferences are changing by the minute, it appears high school conferences are starting to follow in the same pattern. Even though the Scioto Valley Conference has been able to hold its current form for several decades now, just about every surrounding conference has changed and is still looking to change. Recently, the topic of change has started to gain some momentum in the SVC as well, so the simple question to fans, coaches, and administrations becomes: Is this a good idea for the SVC?

My answer in this debate – if looking at it through the eyes of the conference as a whole – is absolutely not. This is something I have looked at in detail for a few years now, and my feeling is that the SVC does have some possible concerns moving forward; however, I believe these issues are and will be minor compared to the problems that could come with expansion or dismantling of our great league.

The Scioto Valley Conference has so many characteristics that other conferences are missing. The geography makes complete sense. I grew up in the SVC thinking Piketon to Westfall was a long drive, when in fact that 50 mile trip is considered the norm – and in some cases short – for some leagues. This allows for great crowds, great gates, and natural rivalries in multiple sports.

I also believe the SVC has had great competitive balance. In boys’ basketball, we have had six different champions (Piketon did share a second in this span) in the last six years. On the girls’ side, seven different schools have won a title in the last 15 years. In that same time frame, seven different football programs have won a league title as well.

There has also been more than enough tournament success from a variety of schools. Adena and Westfall volleyball, Paint Valley and Westfall football, six different basketball teams have been to the state in the past two decades, softball teams such as Piketon have been to the state, the baseball league’s resume speaks for itself, and too many individuals to mention in sports such as cross country, golf, and track have had great success as well.

Now, I realize the other side of this argument is concerned with the enrollment discrepancy over the past four or five years. There is a concern that some of the smaller schools are having trouble keeping up in all sports. My response to this comes from a few different angles and then leads to one of my major points in this discussion. First, I think we as a conference have to be careful to make rash decisions based on six or seven years of data (keep in mind the SVC just turned 50 this year). Secondly, leagues our size with our close geography can often go through spurts where families move from one district to another. This can really influence our league’s athletic balance for four or five years in a major way. This can be extremely difficult for the small schools to overcome.

This leads me to perhaps my most passionate comment on this topic. If I am looking at this debate through the eyes of the SVC, it is not the league’s job to become consumed with the well-being of every school. It is the league’s job to run a successful league. If at some point an individual school decides they are too big or too small for the league, then it is the job of that school to do what they think is best for their kids. At that point, the league would have to take a look at adding a missing piece.

This topic, which had started to gain momentum a few years ago, has recently gained even more momentum because of the interest that Waverly High School has shown in the league. Objectively, I do think Waverly fits in our geography boundaries, and the Tigers do have an enrollment, that although bigger than most SVC schools, does fit inside our extremes. The problem with adding a team – be it Waverly or any other solid school – is it pushes our league to nine schools which starts to influence scheduling in a major way, and it probably forces the league to eventually expand to 10 teams.

This immediately starts the discussion of divisions. I say be careful what you wish for in this matter. First, you are going to have trouble finding a local small school that plays football. Secondly, once you split into two divisions, a league really is no longer a league. I have asked several people here recently from split leagues their opinions, and their responses support this. Ask someone from Alexander (TVC Ohio) if Racine Southern (TVC Hocking) is in their conference and the Alexander person will tell you not really. Ask someone from Portsmouth Clay (SOC I) if they view Wheelersburg (SOC II) as a part of their conference and they will tell you no. My point is that a conference that splits is really gong to lose its identity and over time will continue to operate as two different conferences regardless of the name of that league.

A final point in this debate is I feel it is important for our league to watch and study what is going on around us. Schools are scrambling to find a conference and as a result some conferences are getting ruined and others are trying to become so big that they can’t even figure out enough names for all their divisions. I just feel the SVC needs to continue as is and allow the next decade to see what happens with the enrollment figures. As stated before, if an individual school decides something that forces change, then I would be all for taking a look at another school such as Waverly; however, if the eight schools are willing to stay linked together as one then why fix something that isn’t broke.

*OHSAA.ORG…
SCHOOL BOYS GIRLS
Adena 155 153
Huntington 153 138
Paint Valley 132 123
Piketon 179 192
Southeastern 149 144
Unioto 241 249
Westfall 185 207
Zane Trace 191 200
Waverly 235 226

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3 Responses to Even though individual schools may have to decide, SVC as a whole needs to stay put

  1. jryanward says:

    As a newcomer to the SVC scene, but a long-time follower of the league, I agree with many of the points made on the podcast on Monday. Most notably, the domino effect that could result. Both the neighboring TVC and SEOAL have seen a negative turn to their expansion. The TVC expanded so the “big” schools could make the football playoffs. Since that occurred in 1994, the league’s “small” schools have continued to make consistent playoff appearances, while the big schools have made only a couple of trips, and that has more to do with the playoff expansion than the league schedule. As a result, the league has been in constant turnover and change. Leading to, in my opinion, a lack of repect from schools outside the league. The SEOAL troubles speak for themselves, yet due to the size of those schools, a solid fit in other conferences that would make travel and financial sense is nearly impossible.
    To be honest, I really do not see the benefit to any changes in the SVC. I have heard the possiblility of exploring a split based on size. Waverly, Logan Elm, Circleville, Amanda all could be possibilities and even Wellston and Vinton County would see financial and travel gains in joining the SVC. But how does any combination of the aforementioned help the current schools in the SVC?
    Usually changes in conferences or expansion centers around football. With the SVC, the larger schools are far from dominant in football- so I just can’t see risking damage to the traits the SVC has and these other leagues try to attain- natural rivalries, balanced scheduling for all sports, and consistent administration of the league from JH on up. Competitive balance is tough to accomplish in any high school league, and it generally varies from sport to sport.

    • Administrator says:

      Good stuff…I think you make good points about the surrounding conferences. This is why I say in the article be careful what you wish for when changing. I think certain changes look better on paper or sound better in discussion than they actually would play out over the next decade. Good post…Thanks!

  2. 2oldfan says:

    You go to most other leagues and compare how they are ran to the SVC and you will see that our league is ran extremely well. League Banquets, awards, scheduling, competition and travel are head and shoulders above other conferences. There are no small schools with football within a 30 mile radius of Ross county, so if you add a Waverly 9 schools makes no sense and this poster doesnt want another larger school along with Waverly. The competitive balance is pretty good among all schools and sports. I say get rid of the All League Banner, this title gums up a lot of the works in our league. There are too many variables that dicatate who wins that award, and most are outside the ability to change by a district such as socio-economics and open enrollment. Final thoughts, I agree if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!

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