Some want photographs of their kids. Some want their kids to be photographed. Some want something else, like for us to intervene in a dispute with a coach over a playing-time issue.
Playing time is not for us to decide. Nor is it for the parents. It’s for the coaches to decide, though, by and large, the players are the ones who make the decisions through the way they practice and play.
Anyway, we recently got a call from a parent whose son plays seventh-grade football at an area school. This man claims that his son is not getting a fair shake from the coaching staff in two ways: one, that they are discriminating against the child as one who has a learning disorder; and, two, that they are allowing an eighth-grader to play on the seventh-grade team because the eighth-grader’s father is a recreational-sports-playing buddy of the seventh-grade coach.
The son of the man who called us does not play the same position as the boy who is playing down a grade, but “it’s not fair to all of the seventh-graders,” he said.
The athletic director of the high school of the district in question told us the eighth-grade boy is a first-year football player who actually began the year in seventh-grade classes and is playing with the seventh-graders because of low numbers at that level.
And that is perfectly legal, according to an assistant commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association with whom we made contact.
“There is nothing impermissible about playing middle-school students on either the seventh- or eighth-grade squads,” she said in an e-mail.
“We would not put our kids into a situation that is not good for them,” the school’s athletic director said.
The allegations of out-and-out discrimination against the one child has the makings of an everyday he said-she said situation that we’re not in the business of deciding.
And in small-numbers situations at a lot of schools, it’s common for seventh- and eighth-grade athletes to compete together. Should that be the case? What are your thoughts?