School Board President Initiates Change In High School Athletic Code Without Community Input

SCOTT KEELER | Times (05/21/2010)SP_322478_KEEL_Football 10. St. Petersburg Catholic High School quarterback Tim McKay, (23), looks to hand the ball off against Indian Rocks Christian at Seminole Friday night. [SCOTT KEELER, Times.

Should high school athletic codes include consequences for alcohol or drug use outside of school time and off school grounds as many of them do? It appears Frederick County Board of Education school board President Brad Young doesn’t think so as he took it upon himself to initiate a change that removed the penalty for just such behavior. That is what’s being reported by Gazzette.net in their piece School board changes policy with no official public input by Margarita Raycheva.

It appears that Mr. Young not only helped to push through this change but did it in a way that ruffled the feathers of some of the county’s community members. Since it was not on the board’s agenda, the community did not get a chance to review the policy and the initiated change, thus, effectively cutting out any real community input. Certainly not something that speaks highly of a school board, a group of individuals who work for the community.

 There are parents within the community voicing concern over this change, as one parent states:

“This policy was (created) to address instances where student athletes had gotten into trouble off school property and off school hours. This is a policy that parents used as a tool. And they’ve just removed that tool from the parents’ toolbox.”

So what’s the thought process for such a change in policy? As board President Young puts it:

“…the policy was not serving its purpose and keeping students from drinking or using drugs. Instead it was being used maliciously and vindictively, only with the purpose of hurting student athletes.”

Hey, maybe I can use that same thought process if I get a speeding ticket, “Officer…this speeding policy is only a way for you to maliciously and vindictively punish me and hurt me. It really isn’t part of an expectation that I should follow because it’s safer for me and society as a whole, a group of which I am a member.”

The article goes on to highlight a little bit about why an athletic code should reach beyond the school day and school grounds; “created to hold student athletes up to a higher standard than other students, …athletes cannot be mentally or physically prepared ‘to give their best effort’ if they are using drugs or alcohol at any time.”

A point that is often missed by many who believe a school athletic code should not have consequences outside the school venues is the significant impact that alcohol and drug use can have on a high school team and their goals. This is in addition to the impact it has on the individual and the coach trying to work with that individual. You are simply not at your best both physically and mentally.

The physical part is obvious; however, being “mentally” prepared to give your very best is an essential piece that many forget. This mental preparation comes as a side benefit to abiding by the athletic code where there are intrinsic attributes that one gains by doing so.

It takes discipline and perseverance to follow through on one’s commitment (something represented by an athlete’s signature on the athletic code) and character to keep your word and do the right thing just because it is the right thing to do. All characteristics that benefit the athlete and team he or she plays for and attributes all should aspire to.

Mr. Young, I have to say that the penalty for breaking the athletic code referenced here (something you helped remove) is not malicious and vindictive as you so state. It is simply a consequence of a bad choice that too many student athletes make. And the idea that a solution, when any individual (student athlete or not) breaks a rule, lies in changing the rule. Well, frankly, that doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny, it just washes your hands of responsibility.

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