NSAA classification not the be-all and end-all

High school athletics can be considered sports in its purest form. The game isn’t muddled by superstar contracts or any sort of large cheating scandals. It is pure and simple competition at its finest.
But that doesn’t mean that high school sports are immune from politics.
If you haven’t heard yet, the Aurora school district made the decision to opt up and continue competing in Class B instead of falling to C1 as their enrollment numbers show.
In the NSAA fall classifications, Aurora was bumped down to Class C1 in volleyball and cross country, but the decision was made by those in charge at Aurora to make a request to compete in Class B.
Aurora’s enrollment stands at 272, compared to Elkhorn South at the top of Class B with 929. Holdrege, who will compete in Class B in volleyball but C in cross country is at 295.
This decision had no effect on football, which was already scheduled to compete in Class B for this year.
However, this is the second year of a two-year rotation, so this will be a big topic of discussion in February when the next two years are laid out. It’s a very real chance Aurora could be playing football in C1 come 2018, but let’s not jump to any conclusion yet.
So as it stands now, Aurora will still compete in Class B in all sports for the 2017-18 school year, but its future after that is unclear. As districts in the more urban areas of the state build more Class A-B sized schools, that will only continue to push Aurora down the list. Aurora’s enrollment numbers aren’t growing, however they aren’t declining, either.
In case some already forgot, Aurora had a big year last year athletically, including a team state championship in girls cross country and track, the volleyball team qualified for state, the football team made it to the quarterfinals, the girls golf team qualified for state with one medalist, the boys basketball team was in the semifinals at state, a wrestler finished sixth in his division and the boys golf team won the state title with an individual champion. All of this coming underneath the Class B umbrella.
The thing I keep coming back to on this is why is competing in Class B such a hot button issue? Is it really that important for the Huskies to compete in Class B?
One of the overarching reasons I was told Aurora requested to opt up into Class B is because of all the recent success athletically. However, that shouldn’t be a sole reason to keep the Huskies in the higher class.
Imagine with me for a moment if the NSAA denied Aurora’s request to compete in Class B and they were forced to play in C1.
With the cross country runners Aurora has back and always fielding a solid volleyball squad, the chances of Aurora competing for a state championship in both would be extremely high.
If either of those teams were able to put together a season worthy enough of winning a state title in Class C1, is it diminished in the community’s eyes because it wasn’t in Class B? It’s a shame if so.
I cover three Class D teams alongside my extensive Aurora coverage, and each school had its own success athletically last year, including several state championships.
Those state titles Hampton won in volleyball, High Plains in wrestling and Giltner in girls track mean just as much as Aurora’s, or anyone else’s for that matter.
The class you’re in has nothing to do with the caliber of team you have or the type of any one athlete on said team.
We’re in this preconceived notion that just because an athlete plays for a higher classified team, they’re automatically better than those at the small schools. We have way too many examples, especially around here, that prove that is laughable.
Last year, I dreamed of seeing Hampton’s state championship and undefeated volleyball team take a crack at Aurora’s, with all of their best athletes on the court. What a match that would’ve been. Are we to automatically assume Aurora would win because they’re B and Hampton is D2? That’s extremely short-sided and just not smart.
I know football is a different animal and it’s really the only sport that this applies to, but Aurora has played Elkhorn South in the playoffs the previous two seasons. The talent discrepancy is little to nonexistent. The sheer player numbers is seemingly unfair.
However, if Aurora was to fall to C1 in football for the 2018 season, that discrepancy will no longer exist. There is no C1 school that will severely outnumber Aurora.
On that same token, just because Aurora has had success at the Class B level doesn’t mean they could drop to C1 and win everything imaginable with ease.
There’s a lot of athletic talent in this state and plenty of it is overshadowed or unnoticed. A lot of that depends on which class it’s in, which is unfortunate.  
Competing in high school athletics provides these kids with some of their most lasting memories. It doesn’t matter what class they’re in creating those memories.
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at sports@hamilton.net.

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (4 votes)