I just got done watching the first public school since District 6's own Juniata Valley in 1996 win the PIAA Class A basketball championship - kind of.
Two charter schools from both ends of the state competed in this year's championship.
As a basketball fan, this is one of my favorite times of the year.
Each year I like to see how District 6 teams do against the rest of the state in boys and girls, especially the smaller schools. And each year I am more convinced that a local small public school will never again win a state championship.
I've already mentioned Juniata Valley in Class A boys, and there have been two public schools win Class A girls titles since Williamsburg won in 1997. There have been none since 2004.
The last in Class AA girls champion was 2000.
I know there has been much debate in the past about the private vs. public schools in small classifications.
We debate it because we have seen that special class come out of a public school and make a deep run only to eventually be beaten by a private school that is there nearly every year.
Now, don't get me wrong: I am not against the private schools. I was rooting for BG in its championship game. I am a local fan. I do not fault them.
If you build a successful program as they have, players will want to come to them. I would just like to see more public schools have a chance.
So, how can we fix it?
I have heard many ideas and do not like most of them. I propose one that is similar to how the PIAA does it now - separate the private from the public schools and split each separately into the four classes like they do now, and then put them back together.
How would that change it?
Let me take this year's girls schools and explain briefly. There are 11 private schools in AAAA, 20 in AAA, 17 in AA and 62 in A.
More than half of all private schools are in A, and one third of all schools in A are private. I see now why it is hard for the public schools to win in A - even at the district level.
Under the proposed conditions, all the recent private power schools would be at least AA, while schools like Belleville Mennonite and Johnstown Christian would still qualify for A. Seems fair to me.
We will wait until next year to talk about charter schools.
BG's actions during anthem disturbing
Being 76 years of age, and an avid fan of all sports, I couldn't even hazard a wild guess as to how many events I have attended - both as a spectator and participant - during my lifetime.
Over the last 12 seasons of Altoona Curve baseball, there have been over 850 games played at Blair County Ballpark, and it's safe to say I have been there for 90 percent or more of these contests.
What I'm tying to say is that I have attended thousands of functions in person, have watched thousands more on TV and have listened to many more on the radio. I have always been proud to stand and honor America by the playing and/or singing of our national anthem.
This has been a American tradition since "The Star-Spangled Banner" was adopted as our national anthem in 1931. How many millions of Americans have stood and saluted or held their hands or caps over their hearts in tribute to our anthem, our flag and our country, as well as all those who are serving or have served, in our armed forces?
It is something all Americans can take pride in. Unfortunately, there are some who don't or won't.
Last Saturday afternoon, I settled in to watch the game between the Bishop Guilfoyle Lady Marauders and the girls from Steelton.
Things got off to a great start with a young lady singing a great rendition of our national anthem to a packed house. The camera showed the standing crowd, some with hands and caps over their hearts, some saluting, and quite a few singing as they all showed their love of America and all that our anthem stands for.
All that is except for the BG girls.
When they appeared on camera, I couldn't believe my eyes. They were swinging and swaying, and throwing their arms up and down in the air as if they were warming up for a rap concert instead of showing any respect at all for the moment.
Even the Steelton-Highspire group looked on incredulously at this out-of-line, completely out-of- place exhibition.
There is absolutely no explanation for this behavior. Worst of all, it was done on TV and was witnessed by the entire state of Pennsylvania.
Lest anyone think I'm just a "BG basher," I graduated from BG. So did my mother, my four sisters and my son. None have anything good to say about this debacle.
Suffice to say, all my friends who were or are in the service were outraged at this performance.
CBRC?playoff rule needs changed
I recently attended a Central Blair Recreation Commission fourth-grade boys basketball playoff game recently.
As the game progressed, I noticed that not all the players were put in the game. A few concerned parents informed me that the rules change for the playoffs, and there is no must-play rule. This is asinine.
Every kid attends practices; every kid pays the same amount of money to be able to play. Each kid plays all year long and contributes to the team's wins and losses. To enter the playoffs only to sit on the bench, why play hard all year long only to have the coach keep you on the bench?
As a coach for this league as well, I do not agree with this rule nor would I ever not play a kid because "he's not good enough" for the playoffs.
This rule needs to be changed - for the kids. It's no wonder that each year, numbers go down for elementary sports. Discouraging the kids only hurts them and their esteem.
I would hope that this letter finds the board of CBRC to look at this rule and hopefully change it. Although it's not likely, I hope that all parents that feel the same way attend the meeting in May to voice their opinions on this matter.
Maybe it's time to force out the current board and put a new one in place. I, for one, would be willing to front this effort. Maybe the county commissioners need to get involved as well.
A salute to best area swimmers
Area athletes who participated in the PIAA swimming championships last weekend deserve congratulations.
These young men and women did a fine job of representing District 6, their high schools and their parents. This meet showcased swimmers who broke not only PIAA state records but national records as well. A swimmer from Hershey High School, David Nolan, set five national records (two were as a member of a relay team).
The community should be truly proud of Altoona swimmers Danielle Parowski and Alex Cummings, Hollidaysburg's Sarah Kaneshiki and Mace Long and Drake Dodson from Central High School.
Imagine what other interested kids could do if a feeder swim team was established in Altoona to develop other young swimming hopefuls.
Ron and Tina Johnston