Cazenovia The Cazenovia board of education last week held another lengthy discussion about the district’s “selection classification” athletic policy. This time, while previous arguments both for and against the policy were often repeated, new ideas on how to refine the program also were generated and the board agreed to form a task force to study and ultimately amend the official policy.
At issue is the wording, as well as the use, of the policy as currently worded in the extracurricular handbook, which states that “students, teachers, coaches or parents/guardians may request the athletic administrator to process a student through the Selection Classification screening procedure. Any seventh or eighth grade student, who wishes to participate on a high school sponsored interscholastic team, needs to apply to be a candidate for this process in writing at least four-weeks prior to the start date for the specific sport they are hoping to play.” The current Cazenovia policy requires that potential program participants fill out an application, write an essay and undergo a physical and emotional maturity exams.
The board discussed the issue at its Jan. 26 regular monthly meeting based primarily on the use of the program last year, during which six eighth grade basketball players — four boys and two girls — were advanced through the program. Some board members decried the situation as not only against the intent of the policy but also implausible that six players in one year could meet the level of truly “elite” or “exceptional” athletes as the policy intends.
This has been the crux of the discussions about the district’s selection classification policy over the past two months: whether the policy’s wording is incorrect, the definition of an “exceptional” athlete is being misapplied and/or misinterpreted to move too many players up and if the policy is even simply unfair to older students who may lose playing time to younger students moved up to higher levels. Some school board members charged in January that the BOE changed the policy last year but the changes were not implemented in the athletic program this year — whether purposefully or not — which has compounded the importance of addressing the issue even more.