COLUMN By LARRY HICKS The York Dispatch
Thank goodness the caller wasn’t being argumentative.
I was in no mood for that.
He was, however, curious. And you know how curiosity sometimes will kill the cat.
Or make a lot of work for the recipient of the call.
And I was the recipient of the call.
“How many high school sports are there?” he asked.
Off the top of my head, I’m not sure. I’ll have to think about it.
“Well, I’d guess 12 or 13,” he said.
More than that, I’m sure.
“Well, I thought you didn’t know. Do you know? Or don’t you?”
I don’t know. But I can look it up. Hang on a minute.
So with the telephone dangling on my shoulder, I logged on to the PIAA.org website which, by the way, is more than two years behind in recording data. In some sports, it’s five or six years behind. Ridiculous. Anyway, click once. Click again. There’s my answer.
Twenty-one sports are sponsored by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, I told him. Of course, not every school has a team in every sport.
“Whadda ya mean by that?”
Well, take water polo, for example. It’s a PIAA sport, but hardly any schools in York and Adams counties have a water polo team. Central York has one, but that may be it. The same mostly applies to bowling, gymnastics, indoor track and field or rifle, as far as I know. York Tech has bowling, but that may be it. Some other schools may offer those sports on the club or intramural level. And that 21 figure includes girls’ and boys’ teams as one sport. The York-Adams League offers about 15 different sports.
“OK, now we’re getting somewhere.”
Ahhh, yeah, but where are we getting to?
“What I want to know — in which of those high school sports has York County been most successful? I’ve lived in York County most of my life, and I’m thinking it must be basketball, boys and girls.”
If so, you can thank York Catholic for that, I offered.
But what do you consider “successful?
Well, that will narrow the field a little bit. Right away, you can eliminate baseball, football, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and wrestling. By your state championship standard, none of them qualify.
By my count, that leaves girls’ and boys’ basketball, track and field, volleyball and swimming.
“I’ll take volleyball,” the caller said.
Hey, a minute ago, you picked basketball.
“I’ve changed my mind.”
Maybe you shouldn’t. Between the boys and girls at York Catholic, I think they’ve won something like 8 or 9 state championships. Add another three for the Delone Catholic girls and one more for the Delone boys.
That means about a dozen state basketball championships. That’s not bad.
But volleyball is pretty decent, too. Central and Northeastern have combined for six state boys’ championships, plus another one for New Oxford. Add another nine runners-up, five by Northeastern and Central.
Then consider we’ve had three state champions and nine state runners-up in girls’ volleyball. Altogether then, that makes just shy of a dozen championships and 18 runners-up. That’s pretty impressive.
So I’m giving volleyball the slight edge over basketball when it comes to statewide success in team sports.
But when it comes right down to it, can we possibly ignore the number of state championships won by York County athletes in the sports of swimming and track and field over the years? That total must be 50 or more.
Yes, it’s sort of like comparing apples to oranges — a team sport like basketball or volleyball against an individual sport like swimming or track and field.
But if I’m forced to answer your original question: What’s the most successful high school sport ever in York County? — I’d have to pick swimming.
We’ve had a boat load of state champions in that sport, starting with York High’s Bill Schmidt back in early-1940s when he won three gold medals.
If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.
But until someone proves otherwise, that’s my pick. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised, though, if I don’t get a bunch of calls from track and field “experts” who say we’ve had much more success in their sport. And they might be right.
“Hey, I still take basketball.”
But you just said volleyball.
“I know, but I changed my mind.”
Thanks for calling.
Sports columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Thurs days. E-mail: lhick email@example.com.