I've been on record since last April as supporting Juniata's decision to move into the Mountain League from the Tri-Valley League, and in conjunction with that, from PIAA District 3 to District 6.
District 3 apparently thought it was a good idea to allow Juniata to go to District 6 - that district's board voted unanimously to release the Indians. And District 6 had just one dissenting vote on acceptance of the proposal. But at the PIAA's meeting March 25-26, the agency's board of directors agreed to table the change, at the request of both districts, presumably because there is some remaining opposition to the move.
The motion to table apparently was based on the belief that Juniata - the board and/or the administration, which speak for the school district - is not settled on the transition between PIAA districts. The matter seemingly is back in the hands of the school board, which already has spoken, but apparently needs to reiterate its position.
Until recently, none of the arguments raised against this move seemed reason enough to stop it. Then, in a recent last-ditch effort by a small group of parents to derail the move, a reason came out that finally seemed to make sense.
Or does it?
The reason given by some is that parents will not be able to see their kids play as often, because these parents work in the Harrisburg area and elsewhere that makes the TVL - or Mid-Penn Conference - a more logical fit.
You see, their argument is valid only if all - or at least a great majority - of Juniata sports parents work to the southeast of Mifflintown. Otherwise, it's a selfish move by a few people - and one that probably won't matter to them anyway. Surely, a good number of their kids are going to graduate within the next two years - two years that, even the group suddenly opposing the District 6 move must admit, will be played in the Mountain League.
And, their push to stay in District 3 - even with all their opponents elsewhere - presupposes that the school can gain membership to the Mid-Penn, a conference that, of late, has rejected several applicants and shown a lack of interest in accepting more teams.
It also assumes that the Mid-Penn is a logical home for Juniata. Remember, one of the original arguments against leaving the TVL was the belief that the Mountain League would be too daunting for the Indians. But the Mountain League is a summer picnic compared to the highly competitive Mid-Penn, where Juniata's schedule likely would be filled with perennial state powerhouses in several sports.
Part of the problem here is that the argument against the District 6 move changes each time it is addressed.
Staying in District 3 - regardless of conference - continues to make the postseason a less attainable goal for most Juniata teams. As noted in The Sentinel's March 12 editorial on the subject, both the girls basketball and football teams would have benefited from District 6 membership this year. It's likely that other athletes - wrestling, for instance, and track - would have a greater chance of seeing state-level competition through District 6.
The fact that a school administration supports something doesn't automatically make it right - recall at the other end of Juniata County a misguided move to transfer a football team into a league that could well have killed the program.
But this administration apparently did its homework - which may, for all we know, include someone having checked to see if the Mid-Penn was a viable option before looking west. Travel issues are at best a red herring; teams have to make long road trips in District 3, one of the biggest in the state - and more so if you're Juniata, trapped at the outskirts of the district.
And, while several coaches initially were against the move, the new crop of coaches at Juniata seems to be generally in favor of the Mountain League, which is best followed by a transfer to District 6.
Will there be a few who suffer adversely as a result? Most assuredly yes, just as some must feel negative effects of the current situation, and others who would endure consequences if the Indians were to gain acceptance in the Mid-Penn. Just as some find a way to deal with the issues of today, others will learn to adapt to those of the future.
We talk about how sports is supposed to be for the kids - a motive the proposed move seems to fit. That should be at the top of the consideration list.
The school board reviewed this issue and acted. The board now needs to reaffirm its stance and ask the PIAA to approve the change.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.