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EDITORIAL: Lawmakers can’t waste time on Gorman gripes

Assemblyman Harvey Munford’s bill draft request to boot Bishop Gorman High School’s sports teams from state playoffs is a terrible idea. Not only is the proposed legislation bad policy, it’s an overreach indicative of the poor prioritization that has plagued previous Nevada Legislatures.

The 2015 session, which convenes Feb. 2, must be about the big picture, not silly distractions. Reforming the state’s tax structure. Improving K-12 funding while making public education more competitive and more accountable. Rebuilding Nevada’s shameful mental health system. Creating a UNLV medical school. Enacting government reforms that will save taxpayer money and give governments tighter control of their finances. These are complicated issues that, in addition to passing a two-year state budget, easily could consume the 120-day session by themselves.

But the Legislature already has nearly 1,000 bill draft requests. Every moment spent drafting, debating and amending totally unnecessary bills is time that can’t be spent considering weighty matters that will shape Nevada for decades to come. Lawmakers have just four months every other year to tend to the business of the state, a constitutional limit approved by voters specifically to prevent busybody legislators from burdening Nevadans with wave after wave of intrusive new statutes. But every session is bogged down by minutiae that inevitably leads to final-week scrambling.

What better serves Nevadans? A sour-grapes bill to address hard feelings in high school sports, or more public consideration of legislation that affects every man, woman and child in the state?

Bishop Gorman’s statewide dominance in a handful of sports — football, especially — has enraged some school officials and parents, who claim the Catholic school engages in improper recruiting. The Gaels’ football team recently won its sixth straight state title by beating Sparks’ Reed High School 70-28, solidifying a No. 1 national ranking for the school.

“Come on, Gorman should be a totally independent school, one that does not compete with other high schools,” Mr. Munford told the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Ray Hagar.

The regulation of high school sports is the job of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. And the NIAA wisely has seen fit to allow Bishop Gorman to compete for state championships against Nevada’s biggest public high schools.

Those who rip the Gaels for routing opponents are loath to admit that Bishop Gorman has raised the athletics bar, especially in Southern Nevada. Coaches and student athletes are working harder to compete with — and beat — Bishop Gorman. Before 2013, the Gaels had won seven straight state baseball titles. Clark County public schools have won the past two.

There are worse fates than being blown out by Bishop Gorman. Imagine an elite, undefeated public school team left to wonder, forever, whether it was good enough to beat the Gaels.

As Mr. Hagar reported, it’s unclear whether Mr. Munford seeks to ban all Bishop Gorman teams from state playoffs, or just the football team. Regardless, his bill doesn’t deserve a hearing in 2015. The Legislature has far more important matters to attend to.

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