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Opening Arguments

A moving violation

Jasmine Watson is already at the Univeristy of Massachusetts and apparently having a good freshman year, but the Indiana High School Athletic Association case involving her is still alive. When her parents moved from Elkhart to South Bend, the IHSAA ruled her ineligible to play for South Bend Washington because she moved "for athletic reasons," a violation of IHSAA rules. But a court bought her parents' argument that they moved for economic reasons. An appeals court agreed, and the Indiana Supreme Court has now decided to hear the case.

If we're just thinking about an individual student, it seems just as unfair to prevent them from moving "for athletic reasons" as it does for "academic reasons." If a student wants to play college ball, and has a better chance to show off basketball talent in one high school instead of another, why should that matter any more to the rest of us than a student choosing a particular school because it gives him a better chance at medical school later on?

But IHSAA Commissioner Blake Ress has a good explanation for continuing to pursue the case after it seemingly no longer matters:

Rather, the IHSAA worries that the Watson rulings undermined its authority in athlete eligibility disputes, Ress said.


"The original decision, we felt, was way too broad," Ress said. "It prevented us from making schools follow our rules. We're pleased they're going to hear it because we thought it set a bad precedent for the future."

The essential point of the rule is not to punish students but to constrain schools. High school athletics already matter far too much and take up too much of educators', parents' and students' time and energy that should be devoted to academics. If the IHSAA didn't at least try to enforce its "no moving for athletics" rule, high schools would be able to actively recruit students the way colleges now do, and it would be so much worse. Give the group credit for at least trying to keep the student in "student athlete."

Take a look at IHSAA eligibility rules, by the way (pdf file). Pretty good code of conduct.

Posted in: Hoosier lore, Sports


Fri, 03/05/2010 - 12:49am

Moving between Fort Wayne high schools "for athletic reasons" is a common every day occurrence here. That is why, of course, that certain schools "who shall remain nameless" (because they do not have to be named), benefit every year from an influx of talented freshman players from outside the schools boundaries. That is why perennial football and basketball powers always remain near the top of the standings.

I am unsure why the IHSAA doesn't have ten cases a year in the Allen County courts.