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Community should oppose possible abolition of selection classification program

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

Thank you for the informative coverage of the recent board of education meeting. Good journalism engages the public to get involved in the major issues facing our community.

That said, I am hoping other taxpayers will join me at the Feb. 24 board meeting and discourage board members from abolishing a long-standing policy that has allowed exceptional athletes from the seventh and eighth grades to participate in high school-level sports. Gifted players from any game should not be denied the opportunity to excel.

This topic was discussed at a board meeting four years ago. At the time, the conversation was about protecting kids who might not be ready physically or psychologically for high school sports. Back then, the athletic director reminded the board that there is a standardized process in place involving district personnel and medical professionals to make sure that the kids who first meet the criteria as exceptional athletes are ready to safely compete against older students. It quickly became apparent at that meeting that the real reason for the discussion was because some parents were upset that their child had a bad experience in varsity inter-squad competition.

Board members need to understand that, at the high school level, sports are no longer recreational. It’s about representing your school well and allowing kids every opportunity to develop their talents, just as you would in academics, music, art, vocations, or leadership programs.

Any board member who is poised to change the existing policy because of their own or their friends’ frustrations with team depth charts has a conflict of interest and should abstain in any votes on this issue.

It’s hard to imagine a seventh-grader on a varsity team, but an eighth-grader on junior varsity is far from science fiction. Kids are increasingly specializing in one sport at an early age. Students who stick with a year-round commitment to their game while balancing academics deserve the chance to compete at the appropriate level for their skill. There’s a huge difference between modified sports and JV.

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