Update: On February 19th, it was reported that the IHSA has disqualified H-F from the State Playoffs and that they must forfeit their victories for 2013-14. Full Story Here.
The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) has often followed the beat of it own drummer. Unfortunately that hasn't always resulted in being right nor being consistent in the application of its own rules. As in the latest brouhaha involving the questionable eligibility of an entire Girls Basketball Starting Lineup at Homewood-Flossmoor shows us. As such the IHSA is remiss by ignoring the Homewood-Flossmoor transfer issue and the triggering of a lawsuit.
Why? Because it isn't as if we are talking about just one or maybe two star players following a coach to a new position we are talking about here - but four from his former program as well as another 3 players from others he had had prior contact with. Making matters worse Varsity Head Coach Anthony Smith has basically thrown last season's Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings players under the bus by promising these transfers the starting roles over them.
Hey maybe I get it - at least on the surface. Look it is no secret that what should be the last bastion of amateur athletics is anything but when it comes to High School Sports. Let's face it the Nightmare commonly known as the NCAA isn't about enticing student-athletes to compete for just for the sheer thrill and glory of representing an institution any longer, it is all about the quickest road to the money and/or fame for both parties. Collegiate Sports is nothing but a business - and it is a big business at that.
What it is not, though,
is a means to achieve a quality four year college education!
And High School Coaches are helping perpetuate that attitude when they allegedly engage in coercing former student-athletes into following them to new coaching environments. But I am telling you right here and now - it is a slippery, slippery slope! Especially to players who have been a part of the program from day one and then get pushed aside by newbies.
All that reflects is a winning at all costs mentality and I don't think that that is something high school coaches should be teaching their young and impressionable charges. I mean, couldn't they just let these kids be kids and let them learn all about the money-grubbing side of it when they get into college?
You know, I have watched (and played) high school sports - and I have to tell you that a lot has changed over the decades. Most notably is this strange movement of players who somehow woke up one morning and have decided they would rather go live with a relative, in another district no less, just so they can play wherever for whoever. Back in my day, though, that didn't happen as much. Varsity Coaches were generally only interested in letting the kids experience the high school game for what it was worth. And hey, if they had an exceptional team one year - well that was great. If not - well, no big deal we'll just try again next year.
But letting kids be kids doesn't seem to be in anyone's interest anymore because winning high school programs get all the sweet sponsorship goodies while losers struggle to find an extra game jersey, football pads and even players. So to the winners go the spoils. But don't you dare tell me that some sort of Red Flag shouldn't have gone way up with the moving of an entire starting lineup to Homewood-Flossmoor! It looks bad, especially since it looks as if the school district and the IHSA both don't seem to think it a problem. And there can be no winners in a situation like that as everything becomes tainted.
Sure Varsity Head Coach Anthony Smith has proven himself a winner and that he can bring teams to the State Finals (which of course is every players dream). But I also have to wonder what the Homewood-Flossmoor community as a whole thinks about his arrival right about now? After all it isn't their girls that he is teaching to achieve that State Finals Dream. At least not directly after he basically gave away all the starting positions to 6 Brand New Transfer Players he is more comfortable with. Now, I don't know about you, but I would be mad as hell and don't blame anyone for filing a lawsuit. Matter of fact, I commend them because this sort of behavior in High School Sports has to stop.
As for the Illinois High School Association not blinking an eye?
Well let's just say one has to question their leadership.
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