Plymouth will be a loser in WIAA realignment

IT WAS THE ANCIENT Greek philosopher Heraclitus who first said that the only constant in life is change.

It appears fans of the Plymouth Panthers will soon be dealing with that timeless truism.

Barring some unforeseen and highly unlikely change in plans, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association plans a realignment of high school athletic conferences in eastern Wisconsin, to take effect for the 2015-1016 school year, that will put Plymouth in a new, yet-to-be-named conference with seven other schools.

However, neighbor and long-time bitter rival Sheboygan Falls will not be one of them. The Falcons will remain behind in a re-minted Eastern Wisconsin Conference.

According to the WIAA, the reason for the changes – which impact a total of 76 schools in eight conferences – is to more closely align schools by enrollment sizes and to reduce travel distances and costs.

Another old saying is that there’s an exception to every rule, and in the case of the WIAA realignment plan, it appears that Plymouth is the exception to those rules.

As PHS Athletic Director Mike Slagle pointed out, Plymouth goes from being the largest school, by enrollment, in the current EWC to still being the largest school, by enrollment, in the new unnamed conference.

And the Panthers will replace relatively short trips to old EWC foes Sheboygan Falls, Kiel and New Holstein – all no more than 20 miles away - with longer trips to new conference mates Winneconne, Berlin, Ripon and Jackson (Kettle Moraine Lutheran) – none closer than 40 miles away.

No matter how you calculate it, that all adds up to more of what the WIAA is attempting to avoid, not less, at least for Plymouth.

Add to that the loss of meaningful conference contests with nearby Sheboygan Falls and it’s easy to see why Slagle contends that, “Plymouth does not benefit from the realignment.”

Generations of Panthers have grown up feeding on the bitter, hard-fought rivalry with the Falcons, whether on the gridiron, the court, the diamond, the pitch, the track or elsewhere – and vice-versa.

After next school year, when the realignment takes effect, the two schools will only be able to meet as non-conference foes in games that will count for bragging rights and nothing more.

Plymouth isn’t the only city being impacted by the pending WIAA realignment. Green Bay will see its four public high schools – East, Preble, Southwest and West – split between two conferences.

While Plymouth won’t see the benefits in competition and travel reduction intended in the realignment, the fact is that the majority of the schools involved will see such benefits.

It apparently just proves that, with any change – as in life - for every winner there is a loser.

So, loyal Panthers – and Falcons – will have to enjoy one last year of meaningful rivalry games. The two schools should make every effort to continue the series on a non-conference basis in as many sports as possible, but the drama won’t be quite the same.

And if they’re looking for a name for Plymouth’s new conference, how about the Lost Rivals Conference?

At issue:
WIAA realignment plan
Bottom line:
Panthers lose their rival

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