Aledo May Not Be Bullies, But UIL Still Needs to Address Things

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Figured the time would come when I’d have to talk about this sport.

The phenomenon that is high school football in Texas has now exploded into national headlines following one of the most lopsided games in history, when Aledo High beat Fort Worth Western Hills 91-0. It wasn’t the score itself that drew the attention; it was one parent going so far as to file an accusation of “bullying” on Aledo’s team for what they did.

Bullying? Yeah, that is probably taking it to an extreme. And it once again has led to the same wave of people doing their own whining about the “wussification” of America.

But there is a deeper issue here that may be being overlooked by those rolling their eyes at one whining parent. And amazingly, it was a caller to one of Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket’s shows that addressed it.

That issue is that it makes no sense for Aledo to be in Class 4A (the second level of Texas high school athletics) and in District 7 with mostly Fort Worth ISD schools.

Aledo clearly has 5A-level talent, regularly sending players off to college like Jonathan Gray, now carrying the ball for the Texas Longhorns.  FWISD schools, meanwhile, are stretched so thin on athletes that many of their football teams have to play two ways out of necessity.

And yes, I can personally vouch for this. Back when I was broadcasting high school games while in college, there was one game with Arlington High facing off against Paschal (which was amazingly at the 5A level). Looking over at the Paschal sideline and seeing so few players there while the teams were on the field, my partners and I couldn’t help but reference the 1990s movie Necessary Roughness.

The numbers about how unfairly better Aledo is against its competition speak for themselves. The Western Hills game was just the most extreme example. With a schedule against no schools above the 4A level and one 3A school (according to Press Box Services), Aledo has yet to score fewer than 44 points in a game or allow more than 16. The average score of their district games this year has had them winning 84-7.

That doesn’t mean those players should be ashamed of putting up scores like that. Nor does it justify anyone going so far as to file a complaint that the school now must investigate by state law.

But neither does it mean the Western Hills players deserve to be struck back by elitist sports writers and personalities (many of whom probably didn’t even play anything past the junior high level) saying, “Hey you guys need to just accept the fact that you’re a bunch of pathetic losers who don’t deserve to ever set foot on a football field ever again.” Especially when it wasn’t the players who filed this claim. THAT could be a greater claim of bullying.

Who knows what will eventually come from this case. But if there is hope, it will be the realization that the UIL, the University of Texas-based governing body of Texas high school sports, needs to make serious changes to its alignment policies.

It’s dumb enough that the UIL for some reason has to re-structure the districts every two years, meaning Arlington high schools are now playing against the likes of Weatherford instead of Grand Prairie or Mansfield. But clearly student enrollment is not a good enough barometer for deciding what class level a school should be in.

No, you can’t fault the Aledo players for continuing to play hard in a game. But they should be doing it against 5A schools because that’s clearly where their talent level is at. Right now, them being at 4A is like the University of Kentucky basketball team playing at the Division II or III level.

This is more than just the issue of the remaining schools in District 7 and the rest of Class 4A not having a fair chance against a grossly superior program. There is the risk of damaging the Aledo players by giving them a false sense of confidence and the belief that everything is going to come easy for them because they are not being tested. It would be a whole lot different if they were up against the likes of Euless Trinity or Southlake Carroll.

Yes, an accusation of “bullying” because of a high school football game may be too much. But it doesn’t

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