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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ohio HS XC Meet In Flux?

Two newspaper articles about Ohio governor Ted Strickland's new budget which calls for slot mahines at the state's horse tracks (via Let's Run):

Slotted for trouble? State high school officials ponder status of cross-country meet at Scioto Downs due to slot machines' arrival
The Ohio High School Athletic Association is exploring whether a proposal to install electronic slot machines at Scioto Downs would impact the state cross country meet held there each autumn, the group said Monday.
The meet has been held at Scioto Downs since 1985 and typically draws more than 10,000 spectators. It is not a money-maker for the OHSAA. Last year, it drew 10,051 fans and lost $5,934, according to OHSAA figures.

Some coaches said they are worried what would happen to the meet if it leaves Scioto Downs, because there are no obvious alternate sites that can handle the athletes, crowds and parking.

HS Athletic Association monitoring Ohio slots plan
In a story on the OHSAA's Web site, state cross country meet manager Terry Oehrtman says, "Scioto Downs has, in fact, become synonymous with the OHSAA state meet. When you talk to coaches, they don't refer to the state meet as the state meet. "They don't say, 'We hope to make it to state.' They say, 'Our goal is to make it to Scioto Downs."'

The state meet includes three boys and three girls championship races involving 96 teams and more than 950 runners.

The articles discuss a lack of an alternative site. Rubbish--there are always alternatives. Ken Jarvis of Galion HS has led a group trying to get the meet at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Robert Gary (Ohio State head coach) has reportedly been thinking about the possibility of OSU building a site similar to Indiana State's permanent XC course that hosts the NCAA (admittedly without any action on the issue).

Nevertheless, the guv is playing with fire. High school sports are HUGE in rural Ohio, even minor sports like cross country. Rural areas are swing districts for Dems. Don't mess with farmers--they have long memories.

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