That’s a lot better, isn’t it?
We’re talking about Green High School now being in the Federal League instead of the Suburban League.
This is a good time to assess that since the Bulldogs are finishing their first school year in their new league.
It has been, in many ways, a seamless transition. The Bulldogs have done well overall since the beginning of the school year late last summer. As you might expect, they have performed better in some sports than others, but the interesting thing is that, for the most part, the sports that were successful when the school was in the Suburban League remained so in the Federal League, and the sports that were in the building stages in the Suburban League continued that process in the Federal League.
That – to be competitive across the board – is a school’s No. 1 goal no matter what league it’s in.
A school doesn't really benefit if it continually dominates in most sports. Sure, it’s great to win league championships, but are its athletes and teams getting better – are they progressing, developing and maturing physically, emotionally and mentally – by facing a steady diet of inferior opponents? Probably not. You need to be challenged. That’s how you get better.
It’s also not good to be on the other end of dominance. If your athletes are constantly being beaten down, then they’ll get defeatist attitudes and never grow. And the participation numbers on most, if not all, of the teams will decrease. After all, who wants to lose all the time? There are too many other extra-curricular activities in school to try that are a lot more fun than that. As such, the athletes will gravitate to one of these activities.
What a school shoots for is to be in a league where, with hard work, good coaching and decent talent, its teams have a chance to win their fair share in all sports. No school dominates overall, or in any particular sport. There is parity throughout. That’s the ideal picture.
On top of all that, if possible, you want to be in a league with schools of a similar size, and with as many schools that are in close proximity. That adds some spice to every competition, it reduces transportation costs and it increases attendance, which, of course, increases revenues. Like it or not, in this day and age, economics play a huge role in all realms of high school athletics. They are the tail that wags the dog, so to speak.
There’s no question about the fact that being in the Suburban League provided a number of positives for Green, but being in the Federal League provided a lot more. And membership in the Federal League provided a lot of what the Suburban League didn’t offer at all anymore, and that is those all-important geographic rivalries.
Green was a charter member of the Suburban League dating all the way back to 1949, and as its membership grew to become a group of Summit County schools encircling Akron, including next-door neighbors in Manchester and Coventry, the league served the Bulldogs well.
But when Manchester and Coventry left and there was an influx of schools from Medina County such as Wadsworth, Highland and Cloverleaf, and as Green’s enrollment grew at a faster rate than that of most of the other league schools, the Suburban League became less and less appealing.
In fact, as early as the late 1970s, when a lot of those changes began to occur, then Green Schools superintendent Robert Dunn, a no-holds-barred, cut-right-the-chase guy who had done a lot of coaching in his day, campaigned openly for Green to get out of the Suburban League, calling it "the Medina County League."
Dunn was ahead of his time. He was a forward thinker who could see not only what was happening, but also what was going to happen, and at what pace, in the years to come. But there was no good place for Green to go then. It wasn’t ready yet to compete in the Federal League.
But Green was a Suburban League school through and through. There was a lot of tradition there. The league and school were indelibly linked.
That tie weakened considerably over the years, and it finally became time for Green to make some decisions about moving that were both extremely hard and extremely easy.
The decisions were hard in that change of that magnitude – uprooting something that had been in place since four years after the end of World War II – is looked upon as being drastic in many regards. And that’s understandable.
But the decisions were easy in that it became painfully obvious even to those loyal to the Suburban League that a change of leagues was the way to go. Moreover, that new affiliation had to be with the Federal League.
And with its first year in the Federal League all but over, it’s now more apparent than ever that Green is right where it should be.