According to the Average Daily Membership, a measure of how many students are enrolled from grades nine through 12 based on the previous year, Ashland High School now competes at the 5A level in sports.

Last time I checked, parents want the best for their children. Whether it is the best education, lifestyle, friends or sports, the best should be available. And what Oregon Schools Activities Association has essentially done is say, "You don't have high enough enrollment, so your teams don't get to compete against the best."

High school sports do not only exist to feed colleges and universities the best prospects all across the country. They exist to help student-athletes maximize their experience.

With the new classification system implemented this year, how can anyone honestly say the high school experience has successfully enhanced their son's or daughter's sports career?

Changing classification from 5A to 6A has essentially made competition easier. Is that really a life lesson you want your athlete learning at such a young age?

Instead of developing necessary life skills in learning how to face and tackle adversity, OSAA has made their lives easier.

For athletes who have Division I talent &

or any potential next-level talent for that matter &

they can't be happy not playing against the area's behemoths? Parents of these prodigies will soon be moving from Ashland to Medford for fear of losing a potential scholarship. A mess awaits.

Also with the new system the Grizzlies are playing under, the travel is much more arduous. Let's not forget the parents, who have to pay those frustrating, ridiculously high gas prices to see their child play. With longer trips, that means students are spending less time in the classroom.

The change is an honest, respectable approach to help make Oregon's student-athletes' experience an overall enjoyable one. But does it really need to come at the expense of lessening their challenges? High school students need to be challenged. It will better prepare them for the next phase of their lives.

Sports can do a great deal in developing overall character. It is important, when making these decisions, that we do not compromise someone's overall development.

Christopher Ednie is a recipient of the prestigious Dow Jones Internship, serving 10 weeks at the Ashland Daily Tidings.