In preparing for the 2023-2024 high school season, and coming off the U15 and U17 National Championships, never has it been clearer that the talent pool in Ontario and across Canada runs deep.
The Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association was created to keep our high talent pool in the province instead of having to seek higher competition outside of Canada. Starting with only 7 men’s teams in 2015-2016 and creating a women’s division with 7 teams in 2016-2017, the incredible spotlight has grown on our province, as we continue to look for ways to meet the market demand and number of talented athletes that we can develop on home soil, producing more professional level basketball players than ever before out of Ontario.
The end of the 2022-2023 season provided the opportunity to evaluate the league and the participating teams after the first full “return-to-play” season after the pandemic pause. We reached out to program staff and received their feedback on the growth of the league and the administration of a basketball league in a post-pandemic world. The unanimous feedback was that there were too many teams and that we should be reducing the numbers of teams. Logistically, with the “Prep” programs travel schedules to tournaments outside of the province, and to have a season that starts after the first weekend in October, and end by the first weekend in March, there is not enough time to schedule more than 14-18 games per team. This logistical standard immediately limits the number of teams we can schedule in a proper league format.
The downside to limiting our vast province to 10-12 teams only per division, would see the OSBA eliminate more than 10 programs, and exclude any other programs from an opportunity to join the OSBA. While the high-performance department has a mandate to provide top level competition, we also have a duty as the governing body of basketball in Ontario to ensure that we are providing opportunities for youth to participate in the high-performance stream that is properly regulated.
We are happy to announce that for the 2023-2024 season, the OSBA will be offering 2 leagues in both the Men's and Women's Divisions meeting the market demand and satisfy the need to provide opportunities to keep our athletes in Canada. By offering 2 leagues, new programs that want to participate will have a way to transition into the OSBA and how to navigate being part of a scholastic league and the additional governance that is required compared to a house league or rep basketball league, or circuit. Any existing programs that would have been eliminated from the OSBA fully will be able to continue to provide opportunities for athletes.
We want to be clear to our parents and stakeholders, this intent is not to “tier” programs based on athletic talent. As a scholastic league that looks at the student-athlete experience as a holistic experience, all programs expressing interest in returning to the league were objectively evaluated based on Key Performance Indicators, on the academic side, and athletic side, as well as historical data within the OSBA. Based on coach votes for the “ideal” number of teams in the league, and the logistical challenge of scheduling more than 18 games, the leagues were assigned.
We understand that this is a new business model; we are committed at the OSBA to provide elite level scholastic based high school competition to ensure that student-athletes are preparing for post-secondary academics and sport. While programs will be evaluated annually, and there could potentially be team movement between the leagues, we plan to run 2 separate leagues for several years to satisfy market demand and allow us to partner with our programs to ensure they are meeting the standards of our governance model. This model expects and demands active collaboration and participation by all members to take responsibility not only for their program success, but the success of the Association as a whole, by actively contributing to its evolution and standards of:
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