High School athletics come with a variety rules in South Carolina, and I suspect other states as well. There are rules for different part of a season such as open season, closed season, and in-season. There are rules for eligibility for athletes and coaches alike. While they can seem complicated, I believe that they are in place for a good reason. They keep the coaching and competitions fair for all student-athletes.
There was a recent announcement in our town that a well-known youth team coach was hired by a local private high school but will continue to coach the youth team as well. Since several of the athletes from this high school typically also participate on the youth team, this violates the rule that says that a private high school coach cannot coach an outside team if that high school has three or more athletes on the outside team. This rule of limiting coaches from coaching outside teams if a specific number of their athletes participate also exists for the public schools in South Carolina.
As part of full disclosure, I know this coach and my children used to participate on the youth team. While I respect this coach for her hard work over the years, I don’t think this situation is right. Allowing this coach to run a high school program and a youth program is not only against the rules but sets a bad precedent for all South Carolina athletes and programs. Here’s why.
Violates Existing Rules
High school athletics associations go to great lengths to develop and maintain rules that create a fair competition for the students in the state. The rule for limiting high school coaches from outside teams ensures that high school athletes have the same training time with their specific coaches for their sport as all other competitors. I would have loved my son to be coached all year long by his high school coaches but that is not what the rules allow. By allowing this coach to coach a private school and a youth team, which allows athletes up to 19, they are ensuring that the high school athletes from this high school have access to their coach year-round.
Opens the Door for More and More Policy Violation Requests
If the South Carolina Independent School Association allows this particular coach to have a high school and youth team, it opens the floodgates for requests from every high school coach in the state to be allowed to coach their athletes during the off-season. At that point, how can you say that it is okay for one coach and not every other school in the state? Just because this coach has been involved with a youth team for years, does not entitle them, and only them, to the benefit of additional coaching time with her athletes.
Sets a Bad Example for Student-Athletes
This situation sets a bad example for student-athletes as well. How many times are athletes told that they must maintain their grades, turn in their physicals and permission forms, and follow their coaches’ rules so that they are eligible to compete? Daily. If adults allow one coach to openly violate a rule that everyone knows about, what does that say to our students? That it is okay to fail that one class because we’ll just ignore the rule this one time? Do we really want to teach our kids that skirting the rules is okay? No, we don’t because that can lead to more serious issues in their lives.
Opens the Door for Recruiting
The South Carolina Independent Schools are private schools in our state. Parents and children can choose to attend that school regardless of zoning. For students who are serious runners, having access to your high school coach when other schools do not, could be a big draw. While this school may never use the situation openly as a recruiting tool, it is certainly a plus for their runners.
My Final Thoughts
As a parent who wants to instill hard work and fair competition into my children, I find this situation troublesome. I’m not the kind of parent who advocates participation trophies for everyone, but I certainly think that all schools, coaches, and athletes should have to follow the rules so that the competitions are as fair as possible and that no athletes have a significant advantage over others, simply because their coach asked to blatantly break the rules.