It's happened in the past in many sports and it just happened again in basketball last weekend. It is a Section 6 champion facing a private school from Section 5 in the Far West Regionals and losing.
And that private school's roster can include players from anywhere who are willing pay the tuition. So often that roster ends up looking like an all-star team.
Last week it particularly stood out because of the Section 5 teams involved. Bishop Kearney, a Catholic School from Rochester, had both its boys and girls basketball teams at the Far West Regionals, but the girls were playing in Class C against Randolph while the boys were playing in Class AA against Jamestown. And in the Class D girls Far West Regional, Sherman of Section 6 was taking on Section 5's Batavia Notre Dame, another Catholic school.
Just the sound of a school from the city of Batavia playing a team from the village of Sherman sounds unfair.
And it was because all three lost to their private school counterparts.
It's been a problem that has been around for about 20 years and Sherman girls basketball coach Mel Swanson knows about it well because he has lost three times in the regionals and once in the state championship game to a private school.
''It's a sectional decision in terms of each section in the state,'' he said about allowing private schools to participate in playoffs with public schools. ''All 11 sections can make their own decisions about how they deal with the private schools. I believe there are only three sections in the state that don't allow them in their playoffs.''
And Section 6 is one of them.
It is mainly because of a ruling in a court of law that allowed the private schools to compete on the court of basketball and in other sports in Section 5.
''Because of some lawsuits (about 20 years ago), some taxpayers of the (public school) districts in Section 5 brought a lawsuit against the section for not allowing their (private) schools to participate in the public high school playoffs,'' Swanson said. ''The section lost the lawsuit, so they had to let them in.''
And that's also what happened in 10 other sections, or else they allowed the private schools to participate when they heard of the threat of a lawsuit.
And why hasn't been a suit in Section 6?
''They've talked about, but they haven't gone all the way because it's very expensive,'' Swanson said.
Then there are more problems when a section allows the private schools to participate.
''Now what is really the problem is how they place those schools in what class,'' Swanson said. ''What they do in Section 5 is they evaluate the program and if it hasn't been a dominant program in their leagues, they place them in a class according to the (student) numbers in their school.''
So that is why the Bishop Kearney girls basketball team was in Class C while the boys were in Class AA.
''Bishop Kearney is actually a C-sized school, but since their boys have been dominant, they placed them in the AA class and the girls in the C class,'' Swanson said. ''I still believe they (the girls) should have been a double A.''
When he has to face one of the private school teams, Swanson just tries to forgot about the inequality and concentrates on the game.
''You've still got to play them, so you have to get your mind set for it,'' he said. ''It's worse when it's over and the game is done. You've lost to them and it irritates you.''
It has also happened in other sports and victims in the past have been Ripley and Panama in girls volleyball and Forestville in softball, to name a few.
''So it kind of hits home to a lot people,'' Swanson said.''If you talk to a lot of the schools around, they'll have their story about losing out in the regionals to a private school. Since we don't let them in here, they don't understand why they're in another section.''
Swanson said he doesn't hear complaints from his players, but plenty from the parents.
''Our parents don't understand how a team could be a Class D school when they draw from the city of Batavia,'' Swanson said.
Coach Ben Drake, whose Jamestown boys team was eliminated by Bishop Kearney, said, ''We don't really talk too much about it, especially with the kids. We obviously have no control over it and that's the representative that came out of Section 5 and that's the team you play against.''
And his players don't question it.
''I don't know if they really know the entire background why it is the way it is,'' Drake said. ''I don't really talk about it with them because I don't want them mentally feeling like we're at some sort of disadvantage going into the game.''
When asked if it bothered him after losing to Bishop Kearney, he said, ''Not really that night. On Saturday I really didn't think too much about it, but in the days since, yeah, it hurts a little bit.''
He noted, ''Bishop Kearney not only had kids from all over Rochester, but two kids from Africa who went there to play basketball.''
It's the second time the Red Raiders lost to a private school. Two years ago they were defeated by Albany CBA in the state semifinals.
But before the Jamestown boys lost to Bishop Kearney in the Class AA Far West Regionals last Saturday, the Randolph girls lost to the same school in the Class C, yes Class C, Far West Regionals. That's when the inequality hit Lady Cardinals coach Shawn Huntington.
''I think when it really set in was when I heard the boys team was playing Jamestown,'' Huntington said. ''Wait a second, we just played Bishop Kearney. It was kind of shocking.''
Unlike Swanson and Drake, it was the first time Randolph had taken on a private school while Huntington has been the coach. And he didn't say much about it to his players.
''I didn't want to make a big deal about it because sometimes girls get worried about things like that and you make them (the opponent) better then they need to be,'' he said.
He even turned it into a positive.
''I kind of like being the underdog,'' Huntington said. ''I think we do better when we're the underdog, when we have the pressure on us.''
But playing a private school was an eye-opener.
''The D's and the C's, you get what you get,'' he said about his players. ''I've had the same families for years, you don't typically have any kids move into the district. To be able to draw kids from anywhere (like the private schools), it's definitely an advantage.''
Drake summed it up best when he said, ''We're not on a level playing field.''