Athletically motivated confusion rages on …

Here’s my column from Friday, in case you missed it.

It didn’t take long for me to get a response from the CIF-Southern Section after this newspaper’s blogs posted the replay of the Tuesday PrepXtra Live broadcast, in which a panel that included myself, Fred J. Robledo, Steve Ramirez and Pasadena Star-News Editor Frank Girardot discussed the ongoing drama in the high school sports world that centers around two words: athletically motivated.

During the segment, which still is available for viewing by going to any of our prep sports blogs, Girardot asserted the controversial athletically motivated rule equates to communism. That didn’t sit well with the CIF-SS, nor has much that anybody recently has to say about the topic. That’s because it’s become very clear, at least to this sportswriter, that whenever people open their mouths about this controversial rule they really don’t know what they’re talking about. Myself included.

Can you blame us? It’s confusing. The rule is confusing. It sounds simple enough: if a student transfers to another school and the reason is deemed to be athletically motivated, then that student has limited athletic eligibility.

But just what does “athletically motivated” mean? The Orange County Register’s Steve Fryer asked that question point-blank to new CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod back in August and the answer he got was, “Steve, I do not (have an answer).” Wigod went on to say the rule, or definition of it, essentially is deciphered on a case-by-case basis.

Wigod, just like the rest of us, is in a bad spot. The rule and its interpretation leaves plenty of gray area. So when you hear four writers sitting in front of a camera discussing it, you can be rest assured we don’t have all the answers. When you hear parents discussing it, you can be certain they’re missing important pieces of information. And when you hear coaches address it, it’s a lock they’re not grasping the full complexities of its meaning.

The rule came into play at the start of the 2009-10 school year. I asked CIF-SS Director of Information Thom Simmons what the official reason was that the rule was enacted.

“I’m only speaking on what I think the membership felt and that’s if you’re going to be transferring, you should be transferring for academic reasons and not for athletic purposes,” Simmons said. “Secondly, and people forget about this when they say kids should be able to transfer to whatever school they want to transfer to, they forget the cost to the person who is already there at the school and has already put in three years on the junior varsity or frosh/soph level, and he’s worked his butt off and kept his good grades and has been a good citizen, and now a guy with a better skill set comes in and this kid finds himself on the bench. He’s suddenly replaced after all the years of loyalty to that program.

“That’s the human cost on the other end that nobody ever talks about. Now that kid thinks to himself, `This isn’t fair, so I’m going to go to another school.’ And then he takes the spot of another kid who has been there all along. And so the dominoes keep falling and falling. Where does it stop?”

When Simmons refers to membership, he’s referring to schools that comprise the Southern Section. They make the rules for the CIF-SS to act on. Now you know who to blame for the rule in the first place. How does your local high school feel about this? Have any of you gone down there or called and asked how the school or its league voted on this issue? I doubt it.

According to a Los Angeles Times article this week, the Trinity League is expected to introduce a proposal at the next Southern Section Council meeting it hopes eventually would eliminate the rule state-wide. Yes, that means when a player leaves School A’s football program to go to School B, School A cannot stand in the way by claiming the move is athletically motivated. Other longstanding rules, like valid change of address or hardship request, still would apply.

The earliest a change to the rule could be enacted would be the 2012-13 school year. That’s assuming the process goes smoothly. Personally, I hope it goes through, simply because I’m tired of the confusion. I’m tired of either myself or others being only half right because we didn’t have the actual case file in front of us. I’m tired of parents and athletes having to apologize for making athletics an important reason why they left one school for another or decided to attend one school instead of another at the outset of a high school career.

Parents and student-athletes have four short years to make it all happen.

Nothing beside some very basic guidelines should stand in their way while making the decisions they feel are best for their own individual situation.

When buzzwords like communism start being thrown out, right or wrong, you know we’ve reached a point when something has to be changed. It’s coming.

That much I can assure you. People are fed up. The question is whether anybody will be able to tolerate a reversion to how things were before 2009.

Back then, there was a whole different group, call them traditionalists, who cried bloody murder when kids refused to play for their neighborhood school.

But at least then, we all understood the rules, rulings and interpretations.

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

  • Simmons is an idiot

    Simmons is an idiot

    “Secondly, and people forget about this when they say kids should be able to transfer to whatever school they want to transfer to, they forget the cost to the person who is already there at the school and has already put in three years on the junior varsity or frosh/soph level, and he’s worked his butt off and kept his good grades and has been a good citizen, and now a guy with a better skill set comes in and this kid finds himself on the bench. He’s suddenly replaced after all the years of loyalty to that program.

    So, according to his logic, all the mediocre, run of the mill, average talent players who have put in their 2-3 years at the program should have some sort of tenure, leading to a starting job. I’m sure this would make innumerable parents (of said low talent kids) happy, because they can then continue the dream that the “sparkle of their eye” can seemingly play at the next level.

    Look at what tenure has done to the teaching system. We’ve got teachers that are old, and bad, but because of tenure, getting rid of them is like trying to knock a barnacle off a boat with a feather duster.

    What if American Businesses were run this way; “Well, ya know, Joe was here first, and he’s been here for 10 years, so who are we to replace him with someone better, and brighter??? Great business plan Simmons.

    And, don’t tell me “it’s only high school”, or “only HS football. You can’t compare it with the business world.” BS! It’s all survival of the fittest, and the earlier our kids realize this reality, the better prepared they will be once they leave HS.

  • BishopNOMAS Nation

    .

    VEGAS 73…JoeAmat…just sayin, BishopNOMAS –

    Which one of these munchkins is gonna replace the 2 year Starting Left Tackle to protect NINE against Damien’s Defense…?

    Who is gonna block Alex Hernandez on the Blind Side Edge…?

    Oooooh…Blind Side…!

    # Height Weight
    51 5-7 145
    52 5-11 270
    53 5-10 205
    55 5-9 180
    59 5-10 190
    60 5-10 215
    66 6-0 175
    68 5-10 225
    69 6-0 205
    70 5-5 160
    72 5-10 170
    74 5-8 195
    76 5-8 165

    Can you say bye bye Serra League…?

    VEGAS…baby!

    c

  • Mid Valley Fan

    Aram,

    Athletically Motivated sounds alot like YOUR predictions and analysis…..TOTAL CONFUSION!!

  • Coach Rice Support

    Pomona has had no problems getting kids in. Rice could run a clinic and charge money to coaches on how to bring in transfers “Legally!”

  • http://westcovinafootball.com Marquez

    Aram stated;

    “When Simmons refers to membership, he’s referring to schools that comprise the Southern Section. They make the rules for the CIF-SS to act on. Now you know who to blame for the rule in the first place. How does your local high school feel about this? Have any of you gone down there or called and asked how the school or its league voted on this issue? I doubt it.”

    How schools voted on this issue should be easily available to the public. It would be much easier to build support to change this silly “rule” if we knew exactly what schools support it.

  • Gano Fan

    Very interesting issue.

    Father Travers had a no recruit mandate which many disagreed with. I spoke to him once about this and his position was clear…”we don’t need them”..and he may have been on to something..or he may not.

    Every school has a culture and that culture is why people pay good money to put there kids there. Is that right? Who knows? what is true is transfers have a way of bringing in their baggage. You see it with some transfers today and it does have a certain distastefulness when coaches go over board.

    At Damien we’ve recently had a few transfers and I guess the best I can say is…”Boy we lucked out”…so far. All have been exceptional “Spartans”…they work hard, are very respectful and all go out of their way to be part of the team. Alex Hernandez is a great eexample of a kid who gives all out and bought in day one….keep the Alex Hernandez type kids coming…lol

    In truth Father Travers may have sold the Damien community short or may in the long term be proven right…it’sstill early. He clearly had a vision for Damien, and yes it had it’s flaws, but transfers wasn’t one of them as the student body is stronger than he gave them credit for and 99% of transfers will buy in quickly or be gone just as fast.

    Simmons does bring up a great point though…it wa steh coaches and ADs who set the rules…CIF on;y enforces them. One thing to consider…why make high school sports sooooooooo over the topwhen it’s about teh kids not about the parents who apparently need wins more that character building environments.

    Life ain’t fair…but neither is a a three school student athletewho’sonly a junior.

    Last year Aram expressed his opinion on Ryan Longoria from Los Altos and his “non athletically motivated” transfer to Cathedral..where my brother was the DC so I got to see him up close and personal… CIF granted his move, based on his sincerity, and he played as a Phantom…left after the season was over and graduated from…Wilson was it? Three schools in less than 12 months…and people wonder why CIF is pulling it’s hair out!

    Gee I wonder what school reunion he’ll attend in 10, 20 or 30 years…hey the kid has options.

    Now that was Exhibit A in what transferring is “NOT” suppose to be about.

  • Lets be realistic now!

    EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS THE “LOS ALTOS RULE” IT WAS PUT INTO EFFECT BECAUSE OF THEM DATING BACK TO THE EARLY 2000s WITH COACH GANO! AT THE TIME EVERYBODY IN THE COACHING SCENE WAS CALLING LOS ALTOS AN O.P.P. SCHOOL (OTHER PEOPLES PLAYERS). ALL THEY DID WAS RECRUIT (I FOUND IT FUNNY HOW NAIVE FREDDY WAS IN THAT PREPXTRA SEGEMENT WHEN THE RECRUITING TOPIC AROSE). FOR EXAMPLE DANIEL DRAYTON WAS AT SHITTY ASS MONTEBELLO HIGH BACK IN 2000, BEFORE BEING APPROACHED 9GETTING RECRUITED) TO JUMP SHIP WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN A POWERHOUSE AND COMPETE FOR A C.I.F. TITLE.
    HE ENDED UP BEING THE CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR FOR HIS 2002 SENIOR SEASON, JUST ONE OF MANY MANY EXAMPLES!

  • Gano Fan

    Let’s be realistic

    Behind the hateration are the facts..as you present them. If “DD” was a less than stellar back @ Montebello and yet blossomed into a great player that helped “DD” earn Co-POY honor and compete for a CIF title @ Los Altos..what does that say about Montebello and “DD”?

    There are some coaches who lay out the welcome mat and other’s who follow Dad’s to Golf tornaments and text during Dads during game (don’t ask) but the truth is teh coach who is all about the kids and teh coach that is about ego are two very distinct individuals.

    I guess you’d have to ask the players and parents after the season is over and their eligibility is over to see which is which. Judging from my personal interaction with Gano and the admiration he has from former players he’s the pretty special.

    Just look at what happened with Mc Bride by way of Bishop…kid was exceptional…who made him that way..who put him in that right frame of mind…I’d say tons of credit goesto gano and Co.

    I’d say with the devastating injuries to severalkey players that year Gano wins another CIF title..hell he made 5’4″ 132 lbs Phillip Saenz into the Seirra League Co-Offensive POY when he’s previosuly averaged 40 yrds a game in his TWO previous STARTING RB seasons…man did magic!!! LOL

    Liek I said before…the best coaches “coach” after the season is over…and in some cases…more to your point…”before” the season begins…enjoy the Hateration I hear they’ve come out with a new flavor…”WHINEY SOUR GRAPE”….(dude this is fun)…LOL

  • SMALL FYI GANO FAN

    gano fan,
    McBride was way ahead of any back at LA before he arrived . His problem at Amat was being behind Wells ( POY at SH ) on the charts at Amat and couldn’t wait or see himself beating out Wells. If he had stayed he gets the position by default because of the Wells incident. He had the ability long before he got to LA and that’s a fact. He just went where they handed him the position with open arms. Sad that he got injured as he would have carried that team to a title.

  • depth chart

    Even though McBride had a decent Jr season, he was also finding himself behind Wagner so he would have been #3 in terms of touches. And he surely didn’t get better at Los Altos in 5 preseason games. He was just playing inferior competition that allowed him to rack up yardage. proves the difference between D1 & D7

  • oldguy1

    Under these rules, technically every student transferring from Montclair Prep should be ineligible. Personally I would find that to be a tragedy. Rules are rules. I think the bigger issue is how it has been enforced, perceptually some schools athletes are eligible and others aren’t.

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