Friday, November 8th, 2019
MAC approves bowling as a school sport
By Colin Foster
Midwest Athletic Conference programs played for an "unofficial" league bowling championship last year.
They'll get to play for an official one next season as the MAC announced that bowling has been approved as a school sport for the 2020-2021 year.
"We're excited," said Coldwater coach Rick Hartings, whose program has collected all seven of the MAC's bowling state titles (three boys, four girls). "We wanted this a long time ago and the timing just wasn't right. All those years that we tried, it just didn't make sense. But there are now so many schools where (bowling) is funded and it just makes sense. We kept asking them and they finally put it to a vote."
Since bowling became an OHSAA sport, teams from the MAC - Coldwater and St. Henry, in particular - have been a fixture at the state tournament. Timing was finally right to make it an official school sport, MAC Commissioner Don Kemper said.
"The participation requirement, in the bylaws, has always required at least seven Midwest Athletic Conference schools to field a full team for the sport to be considered for inclusion as a conference sport," wrote Kemper in a text message. "There had always been questions around what participation really meant. At some schools the bowling program was treated like a club sport, i.e., no financial support from the athletic department and no school transportation was provided. At others it was treated as a true school sport, i.e., fully supported by the athletic department and school transportation was provided.
"We redefined participation as 'Did the school pay for the team's inclusion in the OHSAA tournament the previous school year?' There were also concerns around Title IX and adding a boys sport without adding a girls sport," Kemper continued. "The number of boys and girls teams seem to have stabilized with bowling, and we currently have eight teams in boys bowling and seven teams in girls bowling. Everything seemed to come together and the Midwest Athletic Conference executive committee decided the time was right to include boys and girls bowling as conference sports for the 2020-2021 school year."
Up to this point, MAC bowling teams have played in the West Ohio High School Bowling conference, along with a number of affiliates from the Cross County Conference, Western Buckeye League and Shelby County League. The WBL has now been its own independent bowling league for three years. Remaining in the WOHSBC are eight MAC schools (Coldwater, Fort Recovery, Marion Local, Minster, New Bremen, Parkway, St. Henry and Versailles), along with Ansonia, Fort Loramie, Mississinawa Valley and Russia. After this season, the non-MAC schools are expected to form their own league.
Under the notion that approval might coming, MAC bowling coaches held an unofficial conference tournament last year. Kemper gave the green light to hold it again this year.
"We're going to do the same thing this year - it's going to be called the unofficial MAC standings. We're going to keep stats during the MAC matches and have separate standings outside of the West Ohio Bowling Conference," Hartings said. "Next year, it'll just mean a lot more."