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

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All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 after Week 2 …

They’re talking about LA again … but this time it’s about winning.

1. Charter Oak (3-0) — Another big test looms for Chargers in Rancho, but offense looks ready.
2. Bishop Amat (2-1) — Back on track … Jalen Moore especially.
3. La Habra (2-1) — I spoke to Servite coach Troy Thomas on Sunday and he said he would rank La Habra above Amat, but it’s close.
4. St. Francis (2-0) — Arcadia win flatters Knights in a big way.
5. West Covina (2-1) — Jimmy Frazier on his way to All-Area honors.
6. Arcadia (2-1) — Apaches will be even scarier once they correct turnover problems.
7. St. Paul (2-0) — Routed Norwalk, but you knew that (before the game was even played).
8. Chino Hills (1-2) — Went deep into Orange County to learn the offense needs work.
9. Monrovia (1-1) — Here’s my take: De’Shawn Ramirez didn’t touch it enough vs. Arcadia
10. Damien (2-0) — Sparty hoping things are different this time vs. Amat
11. Covina (2-1) — We’re all just waiting for the Colts’ next legit test. And it may be a while.
12. La Serna (3-0) — Edged Bonita for some nice-tasting revenge.
13. Maranatha (3-0) — Who’s ready to lump Minutemen in with Monrovia and Covina?
14. Muir (2-1) — Couldn’t hang with Rancho, now ‘Stangs can’t let the loss linger.
15. Claremont (3-0) — Not sure about strength of schedule, but Pack still rolling.
16. Arroyo (3-0) — Needed Rivera heroics to edge up-and-coming Montebello
17. San Dimas (2-1) — Written off after Week 0, Saints are rolling again.
18. Alhambra (3-0) — Moors handle TC and now the momentum is really building.
19. Los Altos (3-0) — This ranking is dedicated to all those who transferred out. Tell us, is the grass really greener?
20. Diamond Bar (2-1) — Brahmas are on a short leash going to big Brea game.
21. Santa Fe (1-2) — Losses are to teams way above Chiefs’ level.
22. Bonita (1-2) — Two closes losses vs. unbeaten teams. Don’t forget about Bearcats yet.
23. Montebello (2-1) — Almost beat Arroyo, but got Rivera’d.
24. Glendora (1-2) — Losses are to CO and Monrovia. Broke through vs. Colony.
25. South Hills (1-2) — Defense was the concern all offseason and you can see why.

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

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Amat got just what it needed in Servite drubbing …

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

The minute I laid eyes on Bishop Amat’s 2011 schedule, I knew things would be different.

Usually, it’s around this time of year that I have to write a column trying to temper the expectations of Amat fans – and some people in this office – so that they’re not totally off the Richter scale and out of touch with reality come mid-November.

Thank you, Servite, for doing my job for me.

What Amat got in Orange County last weekend was a reality check big enough in size to last an entire season.

Sure, a loss stings.

Sure, probably nobody in SoCal is beating Servite.

Sure, our Valley’s lone PAC-5 competitor knocking off the Friars would have been nice for everyone in the 626.

But truly, that isn’t what Amat, nor its fans, need right now.

There have been plenty of big regular season wins in recent years over SoCal’s best teams, but what Amat needs now is success in Week 11, 12 and maybe even 13. I’ll stop short of the hallowed Week 14 because that might be asking the world.

Believe it or not, losses like the one Amat incurred last week against Servite make that more possible.

Routing Muir does not.

This lesson was learned in spades last year. Amat played a nonleague schedule void of any games where you truly wondered about the outcome before kickoff. In layman’s terms, Amat was favored in every nonleague game last year.

The Lancers rode that wave and a weaker-than-usual Serra League to a 9-0 record. But when the two biggest games of the year came, Amat faced true adversity for the first time and wasn’t ready.

That won’t happen this year.

Amat has already had its nose broken. It doesn’t hurt as bad the second or third time it happens. This is a team that likely will be playing with a sense of its own mortality. And when that happens, teams tend to play with fear. There’s nothing better for a football team than fear.

It’s not the type of fear that means a player is scared of the guy in front of him. It’s the kind of fear that keeps you concentrating, on your toes and doing everything possible to make sure the scoreboard doesn’t start swooning against you.

No team goes into a game hoping to lose so that valuable lessons are learned. But it’s well known in football coaching lore that you learn more from a loss than you do a win.

So now it’s back to the drawing board for the Lancers. La Mirada comes calling tonight. Then Damien, Cathedral, Venice and the much-improved Serra League. With all the areas for improvement now known to coaches and the chances of a false sense of security greatly diminished, the Lancers should be a better team thanks to what happened against Servite.

It sure beats the heck out of routing Muir.

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

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