Thursday, September 13, 2012

MIAA rule sends message about academics

article from
Brian Tate is disappointed that he's not able to watch his son Kylan suit up for the Central High football team this fall because of Memphis City Schools' 2.0 rule. But he does think the right message is being sent.

"It's been a good lesson," he said. "His mom and I stress academics ... he's accepted it and now his focus is on improving his grades. He's an athlete and he plans to try out for the basketball team.
"They've taken the pass/play rule and they've upped the ante with it."

Kylan Tate, a sophomore who was expected to challenge for the Warriors starting quarterback job according to his father, would have been eligible under the old rule, which stated players had to pass five classes. But under the new rule, which states that players have to have a 2.0 grade-point average in the previous semester in order to play, he wasn't.

The rule became effective in March of this year and applies to all interscholastic activities.
And while it's too early to assess the full impact of the rule, school board member Betty Mallott said the message, an increased focus on academics, is getting across to students and parents.
"The purpose is to motivate the students to work harder academically," she said. "Too many young people involved in sports think that's their only avenue and they don't develop other aspects.
"It's a shift in values. Even if it gives them an excuse to go home and study just so they can stay on the team (that's a positive.)"

Several city coaches contacted by The Commercial Appeal about the rule declined to comment on the record so it's unclear how it has affected teams in terms of numbers. An informal survey at the preseason MIAA coaches meeting indicated teams would lose anywhere from just a few to 20 players.

And for schools without big rosters to begin with, the problem is magnified.
One coach who did comment, Kingsbury's Earl Lester, said he was in favor of it.
"I think it's something they should have done a long time ago," the Falcons' fourth-year coach said. "How can you be ready for college if you can't get a 2.0? (Without the rule) we're not really helping kids."

Lester added that he had a minimum 2.5 requirement in place for his team already, so the Falcons were perhaps better prepared than some.

"We lost one of our starting wide receivers, a senior, and now we only have five seniors. It hurt us pretty bad but I don't want the players to get the message that if you don't pass you can still play."
Several Memphis city schools compete in districts alongside Shelby County schools, which use the "pass five classes" standard to determine athletic eligibility. Mallott acknowledged that some might see that as unfair.

"Yes, I suppose you could say that," she said. "But we can't say just because someone else doesn't follow a rule doesn't mean when don't have to. Our children (in city schools) face special challenges, even at home."

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