Editorial: Sports discrepancies are unfair
October 30, 2013
Filed under Editorials
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If you were to record how each Brookline High School student spent every hour over the course of a week, and then aggregate the data, sports practices and competitions would compose a significant portion of the spread.
Sports are a huge component of life here at the high school. The benefits of athletics are plentiful and well-documented. And as sports are such a large part of how student-athletes spend their time, the policies and practices of our teams have deep impacts on student-athletes’ lives. Decisions about such policies should be given the greatest care and rest with the highest levels of school administration.
Currently, there are glaring inconsistencies between team policies, specifically in the areas of vacation practices and chemical health enforcement. For example, on the field hockey team, any player who violates the policy is handed the school’s minimum punishment, a loss of eligibility for a quarter of the season’s meets, while on the boys and girls crew teams, any rower who is caught is removed from the team for the rest of the season. As for vacation practices, the softball team has none at all, while runners are removed from the boys track team if they miss them.
Student-athletes should be choosing which sports to participate in based on their interests, not on which one has the better vacation schedule. Likewise, teams should be composed of those student-athletes who are most interested in the sport, not of those who find it most convenient for them. Whether or not teams should have vacation practices is a complex question, but the answer should be standard across all teams at the school.
When it comes to chemical health policy penalties, the discrepancies in punishments are just plain unfair. The seriousness of a violation is the same whether it is committed by a golf, volleyball or basketball player. The penalties for all athletes should be the same, too.
These and other athletic policies are weighty matters. While coaches do their best to create sensible policies for their teams, these decision should be made by those charged with considering the entirety of a high schooler’s world.
The school administration should take responsibility for setting consistent athletic policies. They should get input from the athletic director, coaches, deans, guidance counselors, Legislature, families and most of all, student-athletes. School-wide policies that come from a more open and accountable decision-making process than the piecemeal system currently in place would end up being all the wiser.
The athletics forum held on Sept.19 about athletic commitment was a credit to everyone involved and an important first step. Now, it is time to take the next steps. These issues demand action.
Aaron Sege and Emmanuel D’Agostino can be contacted at email@example.com.