Parity in Wyoming High School Sports is Gone


A screenshot of all the state championships Star Valley has.

It gets boring seeing the same team win the championship over and over. In professional sports, we see some teams managing to pull this off. For instance, the Golden State Warriors going to the finals for the last five years, and the New England Patriots usually represent the American Football Conference in the Superbowl. 

Yes, success sometimes means being called the “villain.” This is because we do not see parity in sports. Parity brings excitement, and it’s what gives people something to see. Instead of the same team winning the title, other teams that could defeat the “bad guy” is something worth watching.

In the state of Wyoming, this issue is presenting. The same teams hold the plaque at the conclusion of each season. This issue does not get brought up except if one is a sports freak like me and wants to see parity. And when we do, it’s during the playoffs and state tournaments when the most shocking upsets happen. 

For example, we can take last year’s Powell Panthers basketball and football teams being called a Cinderella story. When people did not think they could make the championship game, they managed to pull it off. Even though those games ended in losses, it was still worth watching them throughout the season because they were the underdogs. They had a traumatic incident with their star quarterback. They weren’t even supposed to make it to the state championship game.  

Another great example was the 2017 Cody Broncs football upset over Star Valley, when Cody had a long shot of winning in the state semi-final game against the Braves. Cody did win and went on to even defeat a tough Torrington team. Cody pulled off a shocking win over the Blazers even though they did not lead any statistical category.  

Exciting moments tend to come during the later part of the season which is to be expected because well, it always happens.

We see parity but what about throughout the regular season? Parity is what keeps sports entertaining. Yes, we love our high school sports no matter what, but sometimes people make unfair assumptions about the competition they play using past games history and statistics. Yes, sometimes we see shockers but how much of it do we see it in the state? 

Most people will say that the way it is now is the way it should be, but if it was your team taking all the losses and seeing success? Would you be satisfied?

What if teams were placed into classes based on how well they play each sport and not the size of the school itself? Classes in sports are based on school populations with Cody being the 16th largest in the state, and placing us in both 3A and 4A conference plays in different sports. Several years ago, Cody was in all 3A competition until the WHSAA decided to add more teams to volleyball, basketball, and track. This made a huge difference from being a team that was able to compete for state titles, to becoming a team that began having a hard time competing for a chance to play in Casper for a state title. But they need to balance the playing field. Placing Cody in 4A would work if our numbers equaled that in other 4A schools. Cody is destined to struggle in years to come.

The idea of placing teams based on performance might help solve the competitiveness of each school, and it will bring a lot of parity, showing how well each team performs. The issue would be that lower class divisions would potentially be considered the non-competitive teams and the higher ones the more competitive. Would that bring the motivation to compete at higher levels? Athletic Director Tony Hult does not like the idea. “I think it has the potential to damage certain teams and programs in your school because some will have the benefit of playing schools without as many students,” he said. “I think the solution is that the state needs to move to five classifications like they have in football. That system has the most balance and equity of any system the state has. I don’t believe schools should be placed in a classification based on their play but on school enrollment.” 

Earning the state trophy would mean a lot more if teams had to play hard, eventually moving up when the WHSAA decides to reshuffle and hold teams to where they believe all schools can be successful. This idea could be fair for all schools in the state by allowing each team to have a fair and equal chance at winning games and competing in the state tournament. 

If we continue with this traditional model, Star Valley, Thunder Basin, and Sheridan will continue to dominate state competitions. If we continue with this tipping of the scales, these teams will be the ones placing plaques on walls and display cases.