A long time ago, in a sports scene far, far, away, the Suburban One League was the place to be. The “Power 10′ days, the “Best in the State Days,’ the old times.
Well, sorry to say, the times have changed.
The SOL had its day. So did Norristown Area High School. And the truth is, it’s time to go. Move on, seek brighter and better pastures.
A time for new beginnings. A fresh start. To move into the future.
That time is now.
Can you say: “Hello, Pioneer Athletic Conference? See you in two years?’
The bottom line is, the Norristown Area School District School Board better not screw this up. The ball is your court, don’t drop it. This is “Step One’ to getting things right. The athletic scene has been a disaster in recent years.
Sure, we’ve seen a recent up-tick recently. The football team is better. Ditto for the volleyball and soccer teams. Next up is basketball, boys and girls swimming. Wrestling has held its own. And in the spring comes baseball, softball and track, among others.
But, and let it be known, academics come before athletics. And new athletic director Tony Palladino sees this.
“It’s not about wins and losses,’ he has said, repeatedly. “That’s not what I’m thinking about.’
Don’t be. He’s right. Less travel means more time in class. More time to learn. Which, most would believe, is why the term “student/athlete’ starts with student instead of athlete.
Which brings us to the Norristown Area School District.
There is a reputation, right or wrong. And, truthfully, it’s not good. Sure, it might come from the diversity of the district, and there have been plenty of success stories, but Norristown High, in general, has a bad “rep.’ Unfounded? Yes. But it’s there.
This is a chance to change that, too.
More time in class — a bonus. Less travel — bonus No. 2. A lower sanctioning cost — bonus No. 3.
But caring for the outlook of student-athletes, first and foremost, is “Assignment No. 1.’
And that’s what this move would do.
“If you look at the pros and cons of this move, the pros outweigh the cons,’ Palladino said Thursday. “It makes sense. From all aspects, especially from the classroom side.’
And isn’t that what’s supposed to come first? Do we need superstar athletes that are uneducated, or educated kids that are superstars? A no-brainer, right?
As for the history, in sports terms, it’s tough to say goodbye. Especially when you have been in a league since it founded in 1922. But there comes a time to move on.
And Palladino is right on the money.
“It’s not your father’s SOL anymore,’ he said. “I don’t have the emotional ties to the SOL. It started way before me. But it’s much different now, even when it was the 1980s. Things have changed.’
In fact, the local sports landscape changed way back when. The old BucksMont League vanished when the SOL expanded and the PAC-8 (still, informally, the Pioneer Athletic Conference) was born.
Rivalries? They will live on. Hey, look at the battle of the “Battle Axe’ between Perk Valley and Methacton. Now a PAC league game.
The time is right for Norristown to make this move. And not for athletic reasons, but for common sense.
It starts with academics, but makes athletic sense as well.
Thanks to the SOL, it’s been a fun ride. But if the Norristown Area School Board thinks the right way, it’s time to become “Pioneers.’
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