Proposal 23 was voted into fruition in December 2018 by the schools that are apart of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and will go into effect in the 2021 football season. The amendment passed 324-307 with 69 schools voting no opinion. The question here is: what is Proposal 23 and how will it affect Oswego football?

Proposal 23 is an amendment proposed by the IHSA board which would essentially eliminate conferences in the sport of football. The current class system would stay in place but instead of playing a conference schedule, teams would be divided into districts and play the teams inside of the district. The districts would be organized by class and in the case of 8a, Oswego’s class, each district would have eight teams.

With this announcement, the obvious question rose. What exactly would these districts look like?

Steve Soucie, a writer for the Dekalb Daily Chronicle, undertook that question and has bumped out several pieces about the amendment and projected districts.

In his most recent prediction piece, Soucie laid out his predictions for all eight classes, including the Panther’s 8a class.

The Panther’s district, which Soucie labels as District 6, is made up of East Aurora, Waubonsie Valley, Bolingbrook, Neuqua Valley, Oswego, Oswego East, Plainfield East, and Plainfield North.

If this were to hold true, then the district would be constructed of four Southwest Prairie teams (Oswego, Oswego East, Plainfield East, and Plainfield North), two Dupage Valley teams (Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley), one Southwest Suburban team (Bolingbrook), and one Upstate Eight team (East Aurora).

One definite positive of this would be a new competition field for the Panthers. They would keep their rivalry game with OE, while still getting to see new and legit competition.

For example: Waubonsie Valley got into the second round of the playoffs last year and have been a consistent program throughout the years. Bolingbrook, a football program on the come up, made it to playoffs last year as well, only to fall to Waubonsie in the first round.

However, the proposal is not all sunshine and rainbows. Some of Oswego’s fellow SPC members get the short end of the stick. The “St. Louis” end.

There aren’t enough 8a teams in the St. Louis area to make a full district, so, that means schools such as Edwardsville are going to need other schools to play against. According to Soucie, the teams that will probably get the shaft in this instance will be Minooka, Joliet West, Joliet Central, and Plainfield South.

Someone will have to go south to play O’Fallon, Edwardsville, and Belleville East, and, unfortunately, it would come down to the schools in our area.

The fact that these schools would have to travel three hours there and back for just a two hour game is absolutely ridiculous. These games would probably end up on Saturdays, and would turn into an all-day adventure for the away team.

What about those rivalries you know and love? Soucie’s predictions keep crosstown the same, but what about some of the other big games?

East Aurora and West Aurora is the longest running rivalry football game in state history. Soucie places the teams in separate districts, possibly ending the East-West traditions.

Another factor being overlooked is the recent conference remodels throughout the state that happened this year and/or are going to happen.

Next year, the SPC will be expanding with the additions of West Aurora and Yorkville, but now, with the introduction and approval of Proposal 23, we will only get to see these teams match up with the Panthers for two seasons before Proposal 23 takes effect in 2021.

And what about those newly formed conferences? What about the Dukane conference? We’re going to let teams like Batavia, Geneva and the Wheaton’s all lose out on their newly formed conference? How about the conferences as a whole? What about the revenue stream that is high school football?

The approval of Proposal 23 baffles me. I do not see any upside for any of these schools at any class level. Forcing programs to travel hours and hours WEEKLY sounds like an insane idea. Teams complain about travel times like that for one playoff game, imagine the outrage if that was the norm.

Proposal 23 is detrimental to the IHSA football platform. It puts schools in bad positions and strips the fans of their loved rivalries. It hurts more than it helps and needs to be reconsidered by all schools involved.

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