Friday, October 12, 2007

Redshirting young athletes

Washington, D.C. Schools officials recently decided to provide students a fifth year to complete four years of athletic eligibility, according to a story in The Washington Post (

In a nutshell, the story says D.C. students can only play high school sports for eight semesters -- but they have 10 consecutive semesters to do it in, beginning when they enter the ninth grade. One exception is they may not play two years as a 12th-grader.

N.C. students are given eight consecutive semesters to complete their eligibility, beginning in ninth grade. Same for kids in nearby South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Maryland and Virginia enforce the same rule, according to The Post.

The N.C. High School Athletic Association has not even discussed changing its rule, according to spokesman Rick Strunk. "The goal is to move kids towards graduation," Strunk said. "We've got to look at the big picture: Less than one percent of North Carolina kids will go on to play in college."

But the 10-semester rule should benefit D.C. students, a Board of Education representative told The Post, because it gives students an extended period of time to play sports and lets them adjust to high school life -- much like college athletes who redshirt as freshmen.

Said Strunk: "You don't redshirt in high school."

But kids can essentially redshirt in middle school, or earlier. I know of several prep coaches who held their sons back so that, when they got to high school, they would be physically more developed and more mature than classmates.

One Union County parent told me recently he plans to hold his middle-school son back to better prepare him for prep baseball.

To me, the only difference between doing that and redshirting in high school is a high school redshirt would in theory get an extra year of practice with the varsity or JV team. That's more valuable than an extra year on a middle school team.

"We have no jurisdiction over the middle schools," Strunk said. "I know that (redshirting) can still happen at the middle school level. I would question somebody who might do that."

So would I.

What are your thoughts?

--Ryan Basen


Charlotte Mortgage said...

Let the kids play! Especially when you have their parents permission. I'm sure most parents would want to know their kids are safe playing sports than hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Got A Life said...

Sports are one of the best things going, but let's please keep it in perspective. I think parents need stop living their lives through their children. Also, seems to me like there are better ways to develop athletes than to hold them back academically. How about hard work!

Sounds to me like these kids need an uneven playing field to look better than they actually are. Eventually they will have to play with their peers and will be exposed as frauds. Do these parents think about the embarrassment that the kids have to endure for being held back. Oh, it's not about the kid anyway. Who cares?

Anonymous said...

Greater Charlotte is the land of reclass/red shirting. Moving from up north this practice was somewhat foreign. But after 6 years in Charlotte I have experienced more 19 year old high school players than one can imagine. These parents are looking for that free ride to a D1 school at any cost. Quite frankly, most of these kids will not play D1 and may not play at the next level, period. If you don't think it exists in Union County just check some of the rosters this year, you will be surprised.

Anonymous said...

Are any of these parents concerned about their children's education and what impact this could potentially have on that. Personally, I feel like this is emphasizing the value of sports while devaluing the importance of education.