Better policy from needed meeting

-A A +A
By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - For most of last week, the hottest topic in local sports’ circles was not the start of the high school basketball season.

Instead, the boiling caldron sizzling under the surface that had tongues wagging was a proposal from David Marshall, the Director of Secondary Education for the Bullitt County Board of Education, that was set to be presented to the Board at its meeting Tuesday. Marshall oversees the athletic programs at the high school level.

There were actually two parts to the proposal and each seemed pretty unrelated, but both touched a nerve with high school coaches and administrators.

First, part of the proposal would have made it much more difficult for middle school athletes to be part of a high school program in basketball, archery and track, sports for which the school board pays for coaches and conducts programs in the middle schools. It would NOT have completely eliminated ‘playing up’, but it would have limited it in those sports.

Second, the proposal was looking to limit the number of volunteer coaches in all football and basketball programs. The rule would have put a cap of two volunteer coaches on football programs and one for basketball. Presently, there is no county limit other than a limit of 20 volunteer coaches for each school overall.

The proposal was sent out to the three high school principals on Nov. 28.

Some of the principals forwarded the e-mail to their athletic directors and coaches. Some may not.

A copy of the proposal was sent anonymously to the Pioneer News two days later.

At that point, the Pioneer News made contact with school Superintendent Keith Davis, who was out of town for a conference at the end of the week. He did defend the proposal in e-mails, but was going to wait to ‘officially’ comment until his return on Monday.

The feedback from the schools was also heating up. Before any more public discourse could be held and the media involved, a meeting was set up for Monday. Within a few hours the Superintendent was contacting the paper and saying that major changes were being made to the proposal (see story above). The limits on volunteer coaches was being shelved for later discussion and the limits on middle schoolers ‘playing up’ was completely dropped for track and somewhat watered down for the other two sports.

It seems that a wider discussion had paid dividends. The revised proposal is much better than the original version.

The Pioneer News was prepared to call the original proposal ‘flawed’ and unnecessary and a negative to the local high school sports scene. Compared to the original proposal, the new text is palatable and easier to swallow, although, dropping the entire proposal would have seemed more in order.

The biggest change now on the table is moving the boys’ middle school season back a month with play not ending until late January. That would probably eliminate high school programs bringing up middle schoolers except in very rare instances. It will also eliminate some of the overlap between the youth football season and boys’ basketball at the middle school level, which could help both sports. It will also lessen the overlap with girls’ and boys’ middle school basketball, opening up more gym time for both programs.

It appears that both issues started at the top and never got any feedback until Monday from the schools. In fact, one athletic director on Friday said that he could not comment on the proposal because he had not seen it and had given no input on it. He was only aware of the general outline.

As with many things in life, it appears that a few disgruntled individuals (i.e. parents) had gotten the attention of the right person. The vocal minority suddenly carried the day.

Now, the group has spoken and a better consensus has been built.