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 High School Runners Face Sanctioning Headaches
Submitted by Rickshaw :: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:37 am
High school runners in the northeast US are finding it increasingly difficult to race against their top regional competition, thanks to expanding enforcement of sanctioning regulations by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. NYSPHSAA bars its athletes from competing against out-of-state schools that aren't members of their own state's scholastic athletic association, and many schools are not. This creates chaos at large multi-school meets wherever New York schools travel to compete, not just within the state itself. Major events such as the Penn Relays, Manhattan Invitational, and Boston Indoor Games have been affected. The results have included such craziness as "meets within meets" where the non-sanctioned schools compete only against themselves, and court injunctions to force meet organizers to accept particular students. Is this in the students' best interest?

Unsanctioned schools from outside New York cannot simply join their state's scholastic athletic association in order to solve all the problems. Some see no reason to join, viewing the issue as the New York schools' problem and not theirs. Others are prevented from joining, such as in Maryland where the athletic association refuses to accept non-public schools. This creates a "Catch 22" situation: they cannot compete against New York schools because they do not belong to an association which refuses to let them to join.

New York's sanctioning rules are designed to ensure that all schools use similar standards for age, health and safety, and have always been on the books. What's changed is that the NYSPHSAA has begun actively enforcing them. This creates a situation where national stars from unsanctioned schools in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are denied the opportunity to race against their New York competition.

What happens next is unclear. Will schools petition their own state's athletic association for help? Will they turn to legal action? Or will they simply accept the situation and move on? Coaches and runners alike are scrambling to find the answers.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: High School Runners Face Sanctioning Headaches Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:47 am 

This does seem extremely short-sighted on the part of the NYSPHSAA. DyeStat has a lengthy five-part series of articles about the issue. While the desire of the New York association to ensure a level playing field for all athletes is reasonable, surely they must realize that the method they've chosen is impractical, and interferes with the ability of high school athletes to compete in top events.

The DyeStat articles are fairly one-sided, however, so there may be more to this story. Does anybody know more about how this problem came about, and whether NYSPHSAA has a plan for addressing it?

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: High School Runners Face Sanctioning Headaches Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 3:08 pm 

Yikes, this reminds me of the tales of woe that elite runners used to tell about whatever body used to "oversee" track and field competition before US Track & Field came into being. Can't remember what it was called. Something or other Athletic Union? Anyway, I was a real bureaucratic nightmare, and had the athletes all up in arms. I think they eventually threw the bastards out and started over with a new organization providing oversight of the sport in the U.S.

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