This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing the commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, Dr. Daniel B. Ross. The interview stemmed after a conversation during the first of 14 meetings Dr. Ross conducted across the state, answering questions and explaining referendum issues on this month's May ballot. He was gracious enough to grant me a half hour of his time to answer any and all questions asked about issues around the state of Ohio high school athletics.
At the end of the conversation, Dr. Ross posed a question to me - a question that at first took me off guard.
"Dana, now I'd like to ask you. As the head of the OHSAA, what can I do to make athletics better in the state of Ohio?"
After a comical answer that I gave that basically said to "ban crazy parents," (which Ross got a chuckle out of), I thought deeply about the answer.
The answer I came to was one Ross already spoke himself during our talk.
"I'm proud of where we are," Ross said. "Do I believe we can get better? Absolutely. Do I believe the things that are on the referendum ballot on this year that our principals are going to tell us yay or nay on will help us be better? I do. We are constantly going to be looking on how we can work to get better. And when we stop that or become complacent with the status quo, that we've already hit the pinnacle and we can't get any better, we just took our first step backwards."
I don't think I could have given a better answer.
During the half hour interview, Ross did something that not many men (or women) in leadership do - admit faults. Right there is a good indicator that Ross will never be content with the state of athletics in Ohio.
Ross, who has been the head of the OHSAA since 2004, was very open about the competitive balance referendum and that it's not the perfect solution, and he won't pretend it is.
I agree with this statement. I have questions about the multiplier and if it will really be enough to push certain schools into appropriate divisions. Or if it will be too much and put schools in divisions they have no business being a part of.
"I think most people understand this isn't the answer," Ross said. "I think that most people understand that this is just the beginning of a journey to deal with the competitive balance issue. I think that nobody believes this will be perfect. I think that most people believe this is a good start."
Every journey has to begin somewhere, and people can only make decisions based on the information they have at the time. No one has a crystal ball, or can jump into a 1981 DeLorean and shoot forward 10 years to see how competitive balance will work. All anyone can do is go with what they know today.
And today people know that something needs to be done and some action needs to be taken. Ross and the OHSAA are willing to keep moving forward in all facets of high school athletics, which is better than being stale and content.
Just by trying to do something, Ross is doing all he can to make Ohio sports the best they can be.