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Lincoln Park shows unfairness of PIAA

Commentary

March 23, 2014
The Altoona Mirror

Lincoln Park Charter School for the Performing Arts will be the PIAA Class A state champions in 2014.

As I write this with a week left in the PIAA basketball playoffs, I have no doubt.

Lincoln Park Charter School for the Performing Arts could probably be the Class AAAA state champions in 2014 if they were offered a game with the AAAA champion.

Congrats to Lincoln Park; they are quite a team. But what does it mean for Lincoln Park to win states?

I contend it means nothing - absolutely nothing.

Totally ridiculous is really the only way to describe Lincoln Park Charter School for the Performing Arts' 81-28 drubbing of Forbes Road in the PIAA Class A basketball playoffs last Tuesday night at Hempfield High School.

The question should be how does a ridiculous mismatch like this happen?

How does it ever happen that the PIAA would match up Forbes Road High School, which has a total of 48 male students in grades 10-12, vs. Lincoln Park, whose "area of influence" has been published as being 62 districts in five counties in the Greater Pittsburgh area?

What in the heck is going on?

Until a week ago, I had never heard of Lincoln Park School of the Performing Arts. I was loosely aware there were some charter schools and cyber schools. I was, however, far more aware of the parochial schools and the different rules they have in recruiting high school athletes.

Here in Fulton County, we are not too exposed to these types of things. Our kids just go to school where they live. They play high school sports and represent their communities with pride.

Many of our tiny schools do not even offer large participant sports like football, as there simply are not enough kids to even fill a roster.

Private schools can gather students from almost everywhere. They openly recruit from all over. These recruited students are counted as living in the community whether they do or don't. And the schools rally around these kids as their own.

Is that fair? We know it's not.

It is not an equal playing field.

The fact is everyone loves a winner and more importantly winning in high school sports attracts, well, everyone (students, parents, boosters, community leaders).

So when tiny Forbes Road, which will graduate 29 in 2014, beat mighty Bishop Guilfoyle, which draws all-stars from the Altoona and State College area, in round one of the PIAA Class A tournament last Friday in the Altoona Fieldhouse - Guilfoyle's backyard - it was a big deal.

Enter Lincoln Park School for the Performing Arts - a publicly funded charter school.

I had heard they were "really good."

About any Google query will give a good overview of Lincoln Park Charter School for the Performing Arts and how this team was assembled.

You can learn how many of their very fine players have major Division I college commitments. You can read countless articles about eligibility problems, PIAA and WPIAL cases and appeals.

You can read that the WPIAL has been screaming about these guys to anyone who will listen since their conception. You can see a pattern of the PIAA enabling this unusual "stuff" in high school athletics. You can read about Lincoln Parks claims of "no athletic intent."

You can find articles on the school's founder, Nick Trombetta, and how he and his cyber school saved the town of Midland. Or you can read about Trombetta and the charges from the U.S. District Court for siphoning $8 million to fund Florida homes and airplanes.

There is plenty of interesting reading available when it comes to Lincoln Park Charter School for the Performing Arts.

What in the world is the PIAA's direction governing high school athletics to this end? Who exactly are they representing? What is going on? Why don't the charters and the other private schools have to count all the districts of all the kids that fill the rosters of their teams?

How in any tournament sanctioned by our state athletic association are these shenanigans going on? How does Forbes Road ever even play Lincoln Park Charter School for the Performing Arts? How is Lincoln Park Charter School for the Performing Arts classified as a Class A team?

We are still naive enough to think that the PIAA is good and will be fair. We believe the PIAA represents us and has our interests in mind. We do pay our fair share of taxes, after all.

It has been rude discovering our Pennsylvania high school sports are in this type of disarray. I'm actually sorry that we were exposed to Lincoln Park Charter School for the Performing Arts, not because of the score of the game but because it brought this ugliness into our world.

Damon Schoen

Fort Littleton

Curious selection

I am wondering how a wrestler from Bedford who finished second in the state doesn't get the Mirror's wrestler of the year award?

Instead, once again, it goes to the hometown favorite that finishes in fourth place. Sounds like a case of hometown bias to me.

Brad Weise

East Freedom

 
 
 

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