Possible changes to S.C. school sports hit close to home

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 7:49 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - No matter how much you know about high school football, you’ve likely seen a matchup that just doesn’t seem fair between a small public school and a charter school powerhouse.

South Carolina lawmakers are looking to level out the playing field, so kids aren’t pushed out of the sport that they love.

We spoke to one local football coach about how this could affect teams in the post-season.

Like Silver Bluff High School, 31 other teams in 2A are constantly prepping for the post-season, putting the work in now with high hopes of making it to December.

But lately, teams in the South Carolina High School League feel the post-season’s been decided before the brackets are put out.

“It’s starting to come to a head,” said Silver Bluff Head Coach DeAngelo Bryant.

Gray Collegiate in Columbia took something from the Bluff, they’ll never get a chance to take back- the 2021 state championship.

“When you do look at other sports, and you look at how things have shifted, and what’s kind of being taken away from the traditional schools. Yeah, it does make you wonder,” said Bryant.

Instead of a trophy, lawmakers filed bills to make it harder for the charter powerhouse to take another one.

“Over time, you have seen where a lot of the private charters are being created. And it’s being created a little bit more for athletic uses, which means that the predominant enrollment in those in those schools is primarily athletes,” said Bryant.

Not only would it require charter and private to move classifications, but it would also change the post-season.

“What are you bringing? What are those potential worries and problems to another classification? And then at that point, I mean, is it fair to the kids, to the students, and student-athletes of those charter schools as well, when they’re having to play possibly two classifications up?” asked Bryant.

It would change the sport as we see it.

“Either, in my opinion, just go ahead and just put them in their own separate league, which, obviously right now, you can’t do that. In my opinion, I think they kind of do this is to use the multiply rule, very similar to what Georgia and some other states do,” he said.

Just like film can show you a lot of things, the bills are not fool-proof.

“It is what it is. Every school has to be treated fairly,” said Bryant.

The bills also give the State Department of Education power over athletics.

Gray Collegiate will become automatic region champs this season because teams do not want to play them, and it’s not just affecting football. There have been forfeits to the War Eagles in softball and soccer.

There is no set schedule for when South Carolina lawmakers could discuss any possible changes, but the plan is to have proposals ready by the time the new legislative session begins in January.