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Time to do away with UCBAC title games [Editorial]

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Last spring, the Harford Tech girls lacrosse team had a good season, so good they ended up as the top team in the Susquehanna Division of the Harford and Cecil high school athletic league known as the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.

It's a pretty big deal in the world of high school athletics because lacrosse in these parts is a rather competitive sport. Then again, being No. 1 at anything in high school is something to be proud of.

The 2013 Harford Tech girls lacrosse team has something else to be proud of, though. Last May, the team took a stand after winning the Susquehanna Division title, and declined to play against the C. Milton Wright, winner of the Chesapeake Division.

From the outside, such a refusal to play could be seen as being unsporting. After all, at the end of the Major League Baseball season, the top team in the American League plays against the top team in the National League to determine the winner of the World Series.

For purposes of determining a champion, however, the most important difference between the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference and Major League Baseball is that the teams in the American and National leagues are fairly evenly matched, while the Chesapeake Division is comprised of the strongest teams in Harford and Cecil counties in a particular sport, based on enrollment and prior year's records, while the Susquehanna Division's teams are the weaker ones.

Strangely, the UCBAC league was devised more than a decade ago, most athletic seasons have concluded with the upper division champ usually beating up on, the lower division champ. There have been exceptions, but they have been so rare that they could be categorized as the exceptions to the rule.

It would be as if the winner of the World Series were to play against the top team in the AAA division of the minor leagues. Make no mistake, AAA baseball features some fine athletes, better than most people playing the sport, but no one would be foolish enough to bet on even a top minor league team to beat the winner of the World Series.

On top of that, such a game doesn't even sound all that entertaining but rather seems like it would be a tedious experience for all the players, their families and anyone in attendance.

Harford Tech's decision not to play in the upper vs. lower so-called championship game was not only brave, but it was a move in support of making athletics more sporting by demanding more evenly matched championship games or getting rid of the pairing system completely.

The result was a minor uproar in the world of local high school athletics, followed by relatively little in the way of official response from the public school systems of Harford and Cecil counties.

Until now.

Last month, the athletic directors at the UCBAC schools voted to recommend doing away with the upper versus lower championship games.

That doesn't guarantee the foolishness the upper vs. lower championship games will be going away. The conference is governed by a Board of Control, which is to meet later this month and will have the option then of taking up the matter the upper vs. lower title games.

As of this week, the board's agenda had not been set, so it remains to be seen if the issue will even be raised for discussion.

While the issue of upper vs. lower division title games pales compared to many issues facing local schools, it is something that really should be dealt with sensibly.

And, the most sensible approach would be to have two Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference champion teams (as is already the case in some sports, most prominently football) and to just do away with the upper versus lower division title match.

Such a change would end up being the 2013 Harford Tech girls lacrosse team's greatest victory of all.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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