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BCSL Should Reconsider Doane Academy Vote
By Tom Rimback Staff Writer
The Burlington County Scholastic League had a chance to vote itself better. It declined.
In a vote to invite the county's oldest secondary school into the league, Doane Academy's bid to join the BCSL failed to reach the required two-thirds threshold. The final tally was split roughly 50-50.
It is hard to understand why the measure failed.
Founded 180 years ago, Doane Academy is the smallest school in the county but it has a strong athletics program. The Spartans have five boys and six girls sports programs that the BCSL competes in. Doane has crew, which makes perfect sense considering the school resides on the banks of the Delaware River in Burlington City.
The campus has been transformed in recent years, with modern amenities in its historic buildings. It sports facilities have been included in the campus modernization plans, with one of the county's best baseball facilities and a major upgrade to its gymnasium in the works.
The transformation hasn't just been physical.
For years, Doane was not affiliated with the NJSIAA, New Jersey's governing body for high school sports. The decision to come under the state's athletics umbrella was the first step in revitalizing the school's standing.
Joining the BCSL is all part of Doane's plan. It wants to cast its future with the rest of the county.
On the whole, its athletic programs have been successful but not necessarily dominant. The boys basketball team has had some recent success, enough that it could compete right away above its enrollment level as a BCSL Patriot Division team. For the most part, though, the Spartans are a natural fit for the Freedom and Independence divisions.
In short, Doane would be good for the BCSL.
Yet Doane will have to wait. And that's a shame.
The BCSL has been very welcoming over the years. When Cinnaminson briefly left for the Olympic Conference, the BCSL welcomed it back. When the Burlington County Institute of Technology felt it was time to cast its athletic fortunes with the local league, Medford Tech and Westampton Tech had a place in the BCSL.
The birth of New Egypt marked the BCSL's first foray outside the county's borders. Later Trenton Catholic and Pennsauken found a home here, too.
That's six schools that were welcomed into the BCSL. In every case, the league got stronger, better. That's six schools that should vote yes to any expansion of the league.
Still, according to our sources, not all six voted yes for Doane. Doesn't say much for the Golden Rule, now does it?
The big schools of the BCSL shouldn't have a problem with Doane, either. For the most part, Doane won't be playing Rancocas Valley or Northern Burlington or Moorestown all that often anyway.
Heck, the Spartans only play one team sport per season, anyway. Soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball and softball in the spring. Surely, the BCSL's big schools wouldn't mind one more team in the league? Chalk up five or six more votes.
So where is the problem?
The best guess — without seeing the actual votes — is that the smaller BCSL members had one thing on their minds. Recruiting is the reason to vote no to Doane.
But is it a good reason?
Doane Academy has to attract enough students to survive. So does Holy Cross. So does Trenton Catholic. In a sense, the two BCSL tech schools do, too.
That fact is not going to change if Doane joins the BCSL or the Olympic Conference or the National Football League.
The trick for the BCSL is to prevent attracting students from becoming recruiting students. Attracting students is necessary and essential. Recruiting students is immoral and destructive.
The line between the two has to be drawn brightly. The best way to draw that line is as allies, not adversaries.
Inviting Doane Academy into the BCSL gives it a stake in Burlington County high school sports.
The Spartans have worked hard to earn an invitation. The BCSL should extend its hand.
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