SHSAA explains Colts football dilemma

Steven Mah
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The Swift Current Colts football program found itself out in the cold last week after they withdrew from the Moose Jaw Football League and were subsequently denied their request to be able to contest 3A provincials by the Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association.

The Swift Current Colts football program found itself out in the cold last week after they withdrew from the Moose Jaw Football League and were subsequently denied their request to be able to contest 3A provincials by the Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association.

The Colts announced their decision to rejoin the Rangeland Football Conference last week, primarily due to their inability to host playoffs games in the Moose Jaw League due to league rules.

SHSAA Executive Director Larry Lafrentz explained that 3A football is a unique provincial competition in which league play acts as the first level of provincial playoffs.

"They withdrew from the league. Given our present playoff format, which is based on participation in a Saskatchewan League, because we have every football team in Saskatchewan in a six-man, nine-man, or 12-man leagues, and those leagues are used as the basis for getting into the provincial playoffs. If you don't play in one of those leagues then you're not in the provincial playoffs. There is no way to insert them into the playoffs."

Lefrentz also explained that in the mid-90s, most comprehensive schools in the province did not have access to league play and the SHSAA suggested that they form a league.

Schools such as Prince Albert, Weyburn, Yorkton, and North Battleford felt that such a league was not feasible, due cost of transportation to travel the length and breadth of the province, and as well were leery of the loss of school time.

Eventually the Comprehensive Schools, with the support of the SHSAAA, joined existing leagues in Regina, Saskatoon, and Moose Jaw.

Lefrentz explained that process.

"Once the league is formed it is up to the participants that make up that league to agree to the terms. That was something that Swift Current agreed to was to play their playoff games in Moose Jaw. They are thinking that is a deal breaker for them now and they have made a decision to go the other way, to withdraw from the league and go play in an Alberta league."

Lefrentz clarified that Swift Current agreed to conditions that allowed for them to have home and away games, but all playoff games in would be played in Moose Jaw.

Lefrentz added that Yorkton and Weyburn agreed to similar conditions but not only do they have pay to travel to Regina but they also pay for transportation of Regina teams to come to Yorkton and Weyburn. Similar to Swift Current they must play all playoff games in Regina.

Should Swift Current continue to play in the Rangeland Football Conference, Lefrentz believes they will be on the outside looking in on provincials.

"Unless our playoff structure changes, unless our other Comprehensive Schools, and I don't see them willing to form a league of Comprehensive Schools. I believe that they wish to stay in the Saskatoon and Regina leagues even though the conditions that exist might not be what you and I think are level and fair."

Lefrentz does however see a way back into provincials for the Colts.

"I don't believe that Swift Current has exhausted the possibility of maintaining their status in the Moose Jaw League and making some changes there. I understand that the Moose Jaw people are willing to discuss it but Swift Current may not be."

smah@swbooster.com

Organizations: Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association, Moose Jaw League, Comprehensive Schools Saskatchewan League Prince Albert

Geographic location: Swift Current, Regina, Moose Jaw Weyburn Yorkton Saskatoon Saskatchewan North Battleford Alberta

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  • Alex
    September 18, 2009 - 12:09

    From the SHSAA Constitution

    BELIEFS OF THE SHSAA

    We believe:

    1. That we provide the administrative format for all high school sport activities.

    2. That athletics is an integral part of the holistic development of youth.

    3. In the value of sportsmanship and competition within an ethical framework.

    4. That we provide equity of access to participation across the province.

    5. That we encourage an active healthy lifestyle, through the promotion of activities.

    In my mind what is happening to the Colts football team and Ardens soccer team in the Moose Jaw League is in violation of numbers three and four. There seems to be no willingness on the part of Moose Jaw or the SHSAA to change this and in my mind it brings into question the role of the SHSAA. As Mr. Lefrentz seems to explain it the SHSAA has no input into what happens in high school football leagues across the province? or do they have a say only when they feel like it?

  • Steven
    September 18, 2009 - 12:08

    Dale thanks for your interest. We ran a story last week in the Southwest Booster which provides the Colts Football point of view. Unfortunately we could not reach the SHSAA in time for that story so we ran their side this week. I have added last week's story to the related articles section located above the comments section.

    The Southwest Booster would certainly encourage comments from those involved in the Colts Football program both past and present. Thanks for checking in from Alberta.

    Steven Mah
    Southwest Booster Sports

  • Dale
    September 18, 2009 - 12:08

    Sorry Steven, I missed the original article. Having now read it I see it is the same situation thats been going on for 35+ years. I played at Irwin and also at the Comp, over that 5 years we played both 9 and 12 man football and we had to travel extensively to get games - during this time I remember going to Assiniboia, Gull Lake, Eastend, Shaunavon, Moose Jaw, Regina, North Battleford, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and others I'm sure I've forgotten. Its just part of living in rural Saskatchewan. The part I'm not getting is why there was a refusal to let the Comp host playoff games if they earned it? SHSAA Executive Director Larry Lafrentz - and I recognize he's speaking on behalf of SHSAA rather than perhaps what is his own opinion, comes off pretty badly in this article. I also recognize that SHSAA membership is likley heavily weighted in favour of the major cities. However, surely as an umbrella group representing Saskatchewan high schools the information attributed to Lefrentz shows the complete lack of consideration given to smaller centres:

    Lefrentz clarified that Swift Current agreed to conditions that allowed for them to have home and away games, but all playoff games in would be played in Moose Jaw.

    Lefrentz added that Yorkton and Weyburn agreed to similar conditions but not only do they have pay to travel to Regina but they also pay for transportation of Regina teams to come to Yorkton and Weyburn.

    Anyway, I guess the Colts will have to get their games where they can...even if that means playing outside of the provincial playoff structure. I would suggest that SHSAA consider changing their name to RSHSAA - Regina and Saskatoon High School Athletic Association and thus avoid confusion about who they really represent.

  • Dale
    September 18, 2009 - 12:07

    I'm a former member of the Colts, I have to tell you how much that experience meant to me. I'm alarmed at what seems to be a real catfight going on especially in light of the success of the minor football program in Swift Current and the development of a previously non-existent feeder system for the Colts. What is the back story here...I wonder if we could get the Colts coaching team to make a comment about their side of the story.