Catholic High Schools: Known For Athletics

 Wednesday’s CNS news briefs picked up this note:

Nine Catholic high schools are in USA Today’s “Super 25” rankings — including four in the top 10. The rankings were published in the newspaper’s Aug. 22 issue. St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati tops all Catholic schools with the fourth spot in the preseason rankings. It’s the highest-ranked school — Catholic, public or private — that didn’t go undefeated last year; it finished 10-2 in 2006. DeMatha High School in the Washington suburb of Hyattsville, Md., was ranked fifth. It went 12-0 last season. Its first game was set for Sept. 2 in Cincinnati against St. Xavier. De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., placed sixth. A perennial power in prep football, De La Salle is going for its 15th consecutive sectional championship this season.

Two things on these rankings …

In major college football, top teams will get challenged from teams within their own superconferences. Meanwhile, they play their conference pre-season games posting 56 or even 73 points. Except for the big-money bowl games they dodge quality opponents whenever possible.

Why do sportswriters bother with national high school polls? Except for that Maryland-Ohio clash, how often do these teams face each other on the gridiron?

Second, is this really how we want our Catholic high schools to be known?

Apparently so.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Catholic High Schools: Known For Athletics

  1. Deb says:

    I live in the Cincinnati area. My son just started high school at St. Xavier’s rival, Moeller high school. I can tell you now that high school sports are a big deal here. St. Xavier plays some tough high schools here – both Catholic and public schools. Each season, the local newspaper publishes a “guide” to that season’s high school sports. So I guess it depends on the local culture.

    St. Xavier high school is run by the Jesuits. It is a private Catholic school and their standards to get into that high school are very high. Since it is private, not everyone is accepted. In contrast, my son’s school is connected to the Archdiocesan network of schools, anybody who wants to go there can (provided they can pay the tuition or get some tuition aid). In either case, if you dig beneath the surface, you’ll find that there is more to the schools than just sports. For instance, my son has so many service hours that he has to perform each year and the school dictates what counts and doesn’t count. As an example, he will have the opportunity to go downtown and help rehab a residence so that a lower income family can move in. I heard that it was difficult to get onto that particular program because so many boys want to do it and generally the upperclassmen get first dibs. So please, look beneath the surface!

  2. Todd,

    I agree that athletics has been overemphasized in Catholic schools. In the town where I grew up, the most obnoxious sports fans were those of the local Catholic high school. Also, I worked for a pastor who never faced more of a fight than when he would close the gym for Holy Days and the Easter Triduum, since until his arrival there would often be more people in the gym during Mass than in church.

    Maryland-Ohio? Are you referring to the Big 33? That would be Pennsylvania-Ohio, unless things have changed drastically.

  3. The words of our Lord and Savior are perhaps of value in this context:

    “Where your heart is, there shall your treasure be also.”

  4. G. says:

    I graduated from Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with excelling at athletics or having the reputation of excelling at athletics. You have to understand though, that is usually the press, not so much the school (other than the athletic department). Moeller had so many excellent extra-curricular activities. They have an award-winning student run newspaper, several community outreach programs, an outstanding student government and pastoral ministry program. A laptop program that is considered on the cutting edge of high school technology. A state renowned academic team. A house system that is designed to develop leadership skills, strengthen interpersonal skills, improve teamwork and many other valuable skills. A great band. One of the top visual arts programs in the country. Summer mission trips. Video game clubs, French Club, Stock Market club, Science clubs, Chorus, a great theatre arts program, you name it they have it… I could go on and on.

    Athletics are just all you read about in the papers but there is usually a lot going on at these high schools that are creating extremely well rounded young individuals. I knew many of the athletes that were involved in many other programs… I sincerely believe that Moeller High School is the best high school in the nation, but I’m sure that there are many similar Catholic schools who boast the same opinion and for good reason. I mean, if athletics is your niche as an individual or as a school, go for it as long as it’s for the right reasons. I certainly know that Moeller embodied the Catholic spirit in every competition it was involved in.

    I think it’s unfair to say that Catholic schools are only known for athletics, because while many are, there is so much more than that going on at any given Catholic school or any school for that matter. People have different gifts and are entitled to use them. Just because a school has a great football team doesn’t mean that is the single aspect that is the face of the school

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