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Abbeville Lawmaker Files Legislation Against New Controversial High School Football Playoff System

In January, LHSAA member schools voted to split the high school football playoffs, with private schools competing for separate championships than public schools. Abbeville Rep. Bob Hensgens wants to do away with Proposition 18, as it’s called:

If they are a legitimate Louisiana school that provides a Louisiana diploma, they should all play in one playoff system.

Rep. Bob Hensgens
Rep. Bob Hensgens

Hensgens’ pre-filed bill seeks to make it illegal for schools to be discriminated against by any organization or association based on its enrollment system. At a special legislative committee meeting earlier this month, Winnfield principal Jane Griffin, who pushed for the new playoff system, expressed by separating schools into “select” and “non-select” classifications that they will compete against other schools that have similar resources. A big part of that complaint has been over the geographic limitations that public schools deal with concerning enrollment, unlike private schools.

But, Hensgens doesn’t believe schools should be segregated on any criteria other than size. He believes the LHSAA’s separate playoff system will create two classes of student athletes. “I just don’t think that’s a pandora’s box we want to open in the state of Louisiana,” says Hensgens. “They found a perceived problem with a few schools. And in solving their problems they just segregated athletics in La.  I think we’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

At that special meeting, Parkview Baptist principal Don Green spoke out against Griffin’s proposal, saying that there was no data to back up the claim that private schools have an advantage by being able to recruit top players while Episcopal athletic director Myra Mansur pointed out a problem this ruling by the LHSAA member schools could cause down the line in other sports.

Hensgens says all student athletes deserve the right to be in one playoff system:

And they should all be playing against each other. And we shouldn’t be teaching our children that we’re going to segregate on any fashion on our athletic programs or our academic programs.

The bill will be up for debate in the upcoming legislative session that begins April 8th.

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