When will the MPSSAA learn it's the athletes that count? Off-season coaching rule change is inane

SIDELINES

May 17, 1992|By Pat O'Malley

Let me start this Sunday smorgasbrowse of "Q's without A's" by catching you up with what has been going with the state athletic association.

* Have you heard that the state has two new bylaw interpretations? One concerns out-of-season coaching, the other coach/player conduct.

In still another inane decision not in the best interests of the athletes, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has altered the interpretation of its out-of-season coaching regulation.

The rule says, "A coach may not coach a team representing his school beyond the sports season."

Coaches could run a non-school team and keep up to 50 percent of the players on its roster under the old MPSSAA interpretation, but that has changed drastically, and I don't think for the better.

Interpreted by the MPSSAA, the rule now says, "Any paid or volunteer coach at a member school may coach a non-school team provided the following criteria is observed:

"a. The team may not use a name connected with the school.

"b. The team may not use school uniforms or equipment.

"c. The team is participating in an activity sponsored by an agency outside of the school system.

"d. The outside team's roster does not exceed 80 percent of returning players of what would constitute a starting lineup in that sport."

Under the new rule to become effective June 1, in baseball and softball, for instance, a high school coach running a summer team may not have more than seven players (80 percent of starting nine) from his school on his roster.

Summer and AAU basketball teams will be limited to just four from the school of the high school coach running the amateur team.

It's generally agreed that this new rule evolved because of the football summer passing league. Complaints had been lodged throughout the state that some football coaches were gaining an unfair advantage with no limit on the number of their players they could coach in the summer.

"Most coaches believe the complaints were aimed at the summer passing teams who were loading up with players, but the new rule doesn't affect them the way it does the other sports," said Arundel athletic director and head baseball coach Bernie Walter, who also coaches the Mayo Post No. 226 American Legion summer team.

Walter is right. Summer passing league teams use seven men per side, and under the new rule the teams run by a high school coach can have eight players (80 percent of 11) on the roster. That's one over what they use.

So, summer football, the sport that started all this, makes out the best.

And county high school football coaches did not even take advantage of the summer league. No county head coach ran a summer passing team, leaving it up to volunteer non-school coaches.

"The whole thing was poorly thought out. It can't be fair, can't be equal, can't be justice, it has to be the same. If you think the same is right, then you should never be a traveling secretary for an NBA team," Walter said. "You can't order a bed for a guy 6-foot-1 and get the same bed for a guy 7-foot-1."

Well said by Walter. He said the change doesn't bother his Mayo legion team at all, but he still thinks "it's just a stupid rule."

It sure is. Why can't we make rules that help the athletes instead of appeasing those who don't want to give their free time as some do?

If a high school coach wants to coach his athletes in a non-school situation, so what? If a parent wants his son to play on an outside team for his high school coach because he respects that coach and sees it benefiting his kid, why should there be such ridiculous restrictions?

As for detrimental conduct in tournament games that results in ejections, we have this new interpretation: "Ejection from any district, regional or state tournament contest is considered misconduct detrimental to the tournament. Coaches, players and bench personnel ejected from these contests are disqualified from the succeeding contest in that tournament year. Additional sanctions could be imposed depending on the circumstances."

That seems fair enough, doesn't it?

* Doesn't MPSSAA executive secretary Ned Sparks make a great point about this era of specialization in his brilliantly composed spring newsletter?

Sparks wrote against student-athletes playing just one sport year around and said, "It's sad to think that high school students have choices made for them without ever having an opportunity to sample the menu."

Amen!

* Do you realize that Severna Park's junior catcher, John Milisitz, who I think is the best in the area, has 10 career homers (six this season) and is within three of the state and county career record of 13 set by former Severna Park star Kevin Schiavone and Old Mill's Brian Antal (both did it 1989-1990)?

Isn't anyone who suggests that dingers by Milisitz are cheap at the Severna Park band box off base, because this kid crushes his and most of them would be homers anywhere?

* Did you know that Chesapeake's Tim Wilde was hit by a pitch eight times this spring and teammate Bobby Conrad seven times?

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