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Baltimore’s St. Frances Academy has a football team so good, no one in its league will play it (WaPo)

Oct 27, 2017
Only three years ago, the St. Frances Panthers were a laughingstock. They were from a tiny, under-resourced black Catholic high school in a bleak pocket of Baltimore. There was little money for coaches or uniforms or travel. Their MIAA rivals regularly beat them by double digits. In 2010, they lost every game. In 2015, they won only two.

That all changed with the arrival of Poggi, who had led the tony Gilman School — his alma mater and one of the MIAA’s richest schools — to 13 league championships in 19 years. In addition to being a successful coach, Poggi is a wealthy businessman, and when he came to St. Frances, he brought his money with him — so far pouring $2.5 million into the football team and the school. In just three years, he has helped build a juggernaut of a program, with players receiving football scholarship offers from the likes of Clemson, Alabama and Oklahoma.
Along the way, his methods have alienated the rest of the league, raising questions of fairness and safety. To Poggi and his supporters, he’s giving poor kids of color a chance at a good education and a college scholarship. To his critics, he’s cheating the system in an ego-driven obsession to win. “People unfortunately in Baltimore think that success is a zero-sum game,” Poggi told me. “And if you have it, they must not be getting it. You must be taking it from them. And that’s not what it is at all

Beginning in 2016, the influx of Poggi’s coaches and money made a nearly miraculous difference. In just the first year, the staff took the team’s record to 10-2, and the Panthers won their first MIAA A Conference championship. Their roster swelled with Division I-caliber recruits, some from out of state. In 2017, with Poggi back to help lead the program, they went undefeated. The Panthers leveled all their opponents, outscoring them 534 to 61, and captured their second straight MIAA title.
The fallout started last May. Mount St. Joseph High School’s letter came first, just after Memorial Day. The school would no longer play St. Frances in football because, officials charged, the two institutions did not share the goal of “a safe and healthy competitive environment.” A day later, Calvert Hall followed suit, citing the “size and athletic disparity” between the teams. (Another school, Loyola Blakefield, had left the football conference five months earlier because of steep competition across the league.) Soon their remaining three rivals dropped them: The McDonogh School cited player safety; Archbishop Spalding and Gilman recommended that the Panthers form a national schedule without them.

Yet some read other motives into the rival schools’ withdrawal. In Baltimore, the football debate became the subject of call-in radio shows and news stories. “No one had a problem when it was Gilman dominating the MIAA … back then it was a bunch of big white boys with a few brothas,” someone wrote on Facebook, taking St. Frances’s side. Another countered in support of the boycotters: “I don’t blame ’em. St. Frances recruits grown men to play against kids.” References to the players’ “size” and jabs about their being “grown men” sounded racially coded to the supporters of St. Frances, whose team, like the school, is nearly all black.

Interesting article. I'd recommend reading the whole thing for sure
Oct 26, 2017
I don't like sports as an institution but I feel bad for the kids at St. Frances regardless. I figure the entire point of sports is that some people are born with some genetic advantages over others and this is actually desirable, there isn't participation welfare in competitive physical sports, but when it's the white kids losing oh suddenly it's a problem of safety and other such bullshit. These rival schools are just butthurt they aren't top dogs anymore.

Whatever, as long as the kids are getting those scholarships.
Oct 26, 2017
Holy fucking shit, 534 to 61. What a difference resources and a good environment can do, and all the schools throwing tantrums because they believe it isn't fair that this poor inner city school is afforded the same opportunities as them, can suck an egg.
Nov 14, 2017
Money almost always wins out in sports, from HS to pros to the Olympics. Better coaches, better training facilities, better equipment, better sports science. And obviously, money/prestige will recruit even more talent, even in HS and college, creating a snowball effect.

I don't see how there's anything that can be done if a private school is going to use a blank check to bring in all D1-level players.

It's totally bullshit that people only "noticed" that money unbalanced the playing field when a black team started beating the pants off of everyone. There was probably a lot of "play the right way" and "invested community" and "brilliant coach" talk in the Gilman dominated era.
Oct 25, 2017
Black kids are getting the opportunity to get a degree at the expense of white kids' football pride. The horror.
Oct 25, 2017
This happened last season and they played a national schedule.

2 players are currently going to Alabama and a 3rd and 4th are committed and leaning respectively.

These will be good opportunities for these young men. Hopefully they take full advantage of it. After reading about some of the guys on the team and the team in general I want them to succeed.

And I am kind of against HS sports being supported by public education too. I like the club methodology in Europe. For too long Colleges and Pro sports have relied on effectively free training and not having to support lower levels of their spots financially. The system is broke to a degree.
Oct 27, 2017
And a lot of elite HS teams recruit players unofficially, which isn't allowed I believe. That's always another dynamic that isn't brought to light until they get sanctioned.
Oct 27, 2017
I think the compromise of playing a national schedule is a good one. Nobody wants to see a team full of D1 athletes beating the brakes off small schools that can't compete. At that point, you have to have a running clock so the scores don't get out of hand and legit worry about the losing team getting hit by players way bigger, stronger, and faster than them. Looking at the schedule in 2017, 9 teams failed to score a single touchdown against St. Frances. Looking at the 2018 schedule, only one team managed to score a touchdown.

Not only is that devastating to their opponents, it's BORING for St. Frances to walk through a cake walk schedule. It also doesn't help prepare those blue chip prospects for the next level if games are over in the first quarter. In fact, a sorry level of competition can hurt them when the college coaches are evaluating their play.

A national schedule solves the issue. They get to play a competitive schedule against the best the nation has to offer, which is both more thrilling for fans, and provides a challenge for the players and coaches. And forget local bragging rights, they get to compete for national bragging rights and possibly finish #1 in the country. Instead of beating up on the local private school 65-0, how about going California to play Mater Dei, or heading down to Florida to play IMG Academy on ESPN? Get more exposure for your players and program and play in competitive, evenly matched games.

I don't doubt that there are racists just mad that black players are dominating the league but that still doesn't defeat the argument that programs that recruit out of state talent to the high school should probably play a national schedule, instead of just beating up on teams featuring 190 pound lineman.

I understand they had trouble scheduling teams because of short notice but hopefully that isn't as much of an issue going forward.
Oct 26, 2017
Pennsylvania, USA
I'll read the whole article for more context but it is immediately striking that no one complained about this coach winning THIRTEEN championships at his previous school in the same league but suddenly when he's bringing money and resources to a poor, black school it's a problem?

That's really goddamn suspect.
Oct 27, 2017
We had a similar situation in Washington. Arch Bishop Murphy, because they were private were able to recruit a wide area, and they helped with tuition.

Teams also started to forfeit, because arch bishop was so much stronger. There is a thought to put the class A team to Class 4A for better competition