Friday, January 9, 2009

OAA Looks Ready To Dissolve Into Two Smaller Leagues

Tonight Berkley High School, a school long known for boys' basketball above all else, rolled into the parking lot at Rochester High School off of Livernois for a north-south Oakland County tilt. The young coaching staff at Berkley have molded the Bears into a scrappy, hard-nosed bunch while Rochester is well-versed in the heavy-handed competition the OAA offers.

The wrench in the game? The Bears were an hour late, and when you're playing a freshman, jayvee and varsity game back-to-back-to-back, it makes for a long night. As far as the game went, it was worth waiting for, as Rochester fought off the Bears to the very end, surviving a half-court heave to tie at the buzzer to win 63-60.

Oakland County's sprawling traffic, available bus service to the Berkley teams and a pancake batter snowfall made punctuality all but impossible. This isn't an isolated incident within the OAA and it's not because the member schools don't have reliable transportation, qualified leadership or dedicated employees. It's because the league has outgrown it's usefulness. As one OAA athletic director put it this week, "Conceptually it's a fabulous league; Speaking practically, it's a nightmare."

Word has long been out that the OAA might be ready to follow the MEGA and dissolve. Ironically, the OAA and MEGA were also within a couple of years of each other's inception, too, back in the early 1990s. Now comes reliable information the I-75 corridor schools of the OAA might be poised to branch off together and soon. With Pontiac's impending consolidation of Central and Northern into one high school all but a forgone conclusion by the final half of this school year, the OAA athletic directors are meeting more regularly to address the changing landscape of the league.

It appears imminent that Clarkston and Lake Orion could merge with Troy and Troy Athens, Rochester, Rochester Adams and Stoney Creek to form a smaller, more manageable league. That would leave the southern Oakland County schools like Royal Oak, Birmingham, Berkley, Hazel Park and Ferndale to reconvene the defunct Southeastern Michigan Association.

The question unanswered? Where does that leave Pontiac and Avondale? Some have openly wondered why Grand Blanc joined the Kensington Lakes, and those questions would intensify if a north Oakland County league as aforementioned were to emerge. However, to even consider poaching Grand Blanc while leaving Avondale and Pontiac aside would evoke quick memories of the MEGA Conference disaster when a handful of schools successfully sued the original lineup of MEGA schools to gain inclusion into the league. Could Avondale be part of a northern-based county league? Will Pontiac be considered for a southern-based county conference?

And where do the 'Bloomfields' park themselves? West Bloomfield is on a bit of an island while Lahser and Andover have also been rumored for consolidation.

Times change, schools close, leagues come and go. As the death of the super-sized conference begins to play out, how Oakland County's schools re-invent themselves for athletics in today's recession-based economy will become the face of a new age in prep sports.

~T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, released in August 2008 from Arcadia Publishing. Cameron's second title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries, is due in August 2009.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home