thenarrator asked:

I’ve got a question: In most states you’re limited to four years of high school “participation.” Small schools are allowed to play 8th graders, but if they do, they need to miss one year of high school (in Michigan they’d need to miss one full year-every sport, but in other states just in that sport). I assume Minnesota allows a high school athlete to play as many years as she/he wants?

Here’s the rule as stated in the MSHSL Eligibility

16. *SEASONS OF PARTICIPATION — No student may
participate in more than four (4) seasons in any sport while enrolled
in grades 9-12, semesters 1-8 inclusive.
17. *SEMESTERS IN HIGH SCHOOL — A student shall not
participate in an interscholastic contest after the student’s eighth
semester in grades 9-12 inclusive. All eight semesters shall be
consecutive, beginning in the 9th grade. The attendance of 15 days
or more in one semester will count as a semester in administering
this standard.
18. JUNIOR HIGH PARTICIPATION — Participation in high
school interscholastic programs is limited to students in grades 7-12
inclusive. Students in grade 7, 8 and 9 may participate if enrolled
in the regular continuation school for the educational unit and if all
other eligibility requirements of the League have been met.
Elementary students in grades 1-6 are not eligible for participation
in any MSHSL-sponsored activity; B-squad, junior varsity or
varsity level.

I was wondering the same thing and I looked it up on the MN State High School League site. Yes I think one can play as early as seventh grade (my bosses daughter was the #1 runner for a big school in CC this year as a seventh grader, many of the top girl CC runners are very young). I know April Calhoun played at our HS from 8th grade on. Didn’t seem to hurt her much, she’s an Academic All American with a 4.0 average at the Carlson School of Business.

I think there may be a problem with the system that produces these young phenoms, but like I said, it wouldn’t be much fun for anyone to make a player like Tayler play with kids her own age, so I think you really have to advance them. Seems like our culture is producing world class athletes that are younger and younger, tennis, swimming, golf, gymnastics and now hoops. One of the problems is specialization too early. That wasn’t April’s problem, she lettered in four sports, was all conference in three. I’m not saying I like it or that it’s right, but it is a fact.

You should see the hockey in this state, many kids leave home to play Junior A because they don’t feel that high school is played at a high enough level of competition. Wow, have you seen MN high school hockey?!? I think that parents are a big part of the problem, too impatient for their kids to develope into top athletes. There is a proposal in the state legislature to remove sports from schools and have them be community based. I don’t like that either.

It might be wise to limit the out of season club participation that forces kids to make a choice of which sport to specialize in at too early an age. Some of the parents I know joke about how it’s too late to get into hockey when you’re five. I think others aren’t joking. Elite teams are also a problem. The three sophmores on the Gopher Women’s BBall team all played together on the same AAU team the won the national under 17 title. Kelly Roysland is from Fosston, which is about as far away from the cities as you can get in Minnesota, while most of the other players were from the city. I will say this for club soccer, our local organization has supported 3 teams at Quinn’s age level all the way through U17, which gives 50 girls the chance to play a team sport. On the other hand they have a girl that was on the State ODP (Olympic Developemnet Program if you can believe that) was playing up a year on a Premier team and just quit soccer completely because it was consuming too much of her life.

And yet, the whole thing is kind of like nuclear proliferation. No one wants to blink first. Fifteen or twenty years ago the Gopher hockey program which was famous for winning national championships with home grown talent suddenly went on a draught. “What’s happening to Minnesota hockey?” was the cry. They’re producing more and better players in Michigan and Massachusetts, we have to keep up. So now hockey is a year ’round sport and you pretty much have to play it exclusively. Guess what, we’re back to winning championships. It all goes back to when the Russians started whipping us in so many sports, it became a national priority to keep up. So, yes, I think the problems largely come from too early and too much emphasis on winning. When I coached, we’d always give the parents the spiel about not being too competitive and emphasizing fun over winning, but as soon as you lost some games, you’d start getting the remarks and suggestions and the questions about what’s wrong. I’m conflicted about youth sports, I love them…I hate them.

I’ll stop rambling now. Tayler’s team lost today. She scored 19. I’ll keep you posted on her career.

5 thoughts on “

  1. I can’t control idiot parents who assume that their kid will be a professional athlete, and I think it’s unfortunate that any kid feels compelled to specialize in middle school or before (although I’ll point out that that’s mostly nonsense: Outside of say, Hockey and Swimming, you’ll find every D-1 roster filled with kids who were multi-sport athletes in high school). The problem is when schools join in and encourage this. Should this girl be playing with kids her age and dominating? Absolutely. What’s wrong with that. When I was in Junior High I played against guys who ended up as NBA stars (including via Minnesota). Did they dominate? Without question. Did they play on their high school team in 8th grade? Hell no, they didn’t even play on their high school team in 9th grade (we were all still in Junior High). Coaching soccer parents (never kids) would always ask if “my kid can play up” (in non-school off-season leagues), 11-year olds playing U-13, etc. They’d always say “they’re better than the other kids.” And if they were I might say, “yeah, so let them learn to be a complete player, let them learn to make the players around them better, and you know, let them win and be great.”

    When schools join in this insanity (as Minnesota allows) they are not being educators and they are not being responsible adults. First, if this 8th grader is playing it keeps an actual high school student off the team, and I think sports are important, that they matter, and that you want that experience spread around to as many kids as possible. Second, all evidence indicates that this is likely to be bad for the “child.” The only benefit is to the school’s won-loss record. And if that’s the reason, shame on these school administrators.

    By the way: I’ve coached six high school kids who received D-1 scholarships: you know what’s cool about that? Not one of them got the scholarship in the sport I coached them in. (we picked up a couple of D-2s for that, which isn’t bad either)

  2. I just did a little “home team” research: Michigan State’s Women’s and Men’s Basketball teams. Nine of 15 Women on MSU’s squad (not a bad team) this year lettered in a sport other than basketball in high school. Ten out of 17 Men did the same (so much for required specialization). Zero played on their high school teams before 9th grade. The sports? soccer, football, track, volleyball, baseball, softball…

    So when adults tell kids the things “they have to do to succeed” (in this case), kids should say “shut up.”

  3. We all know that for every phenom who makes it, there are a hundred who fail.  Still there’s one who makes it.  But the schools and the youth sports organizations are way too invested in the phenom at the expense of the rest of the kids.  If “no one wants to blink first” it’s because we lack educational leaders who understand and are committed to the role of sport in education.  

  4. When they start moving kids up, then that kid is expected to be “the next..whoever” and she produces because 1, she has a lot of pressure so she works, and 2, because she has an exceptional amount of encouragement from the coaches. They moved her up so she CAN’T fail or some other kid who wasn’t moved up with her,  but is now playing with her CAN’T be better. Even if the other kid IS better because all the emphasis has been on “the one”.  It’s like the coaches want to look at this one person and say, “See how great our program is, see what I created!” And they DO(the coach) get that recognition. And sometimes the kid gets the D-1 scholarship. What did she miss out on to get it tho? And how much money did those parents really save after spending all that money on the camps the coach suggested and the trips to play on the outside teams, touneys ect.  And you know that whatever sport your specializing in, the coaches all get to know your name…”Oh, yeah, she played in Cali. last year…” So when what is supposed to be a true individual competition, does an unknown name have a chance? Maybe that girl who didn’t get moved up is there. And maybe she really is better and spends the whole day schooling “the one”. Do they notice or do they just think “the one” is having a bad day? Your name has to be known or it won’t matter how good you are. And the coaches know this and some of the parents do too so that’s how the game is played. If you as a parent don’t know how to play the game or you don’t have the money to play the game (although some coaches will take care of the money part for you) then your kid will go D-2. Anyway, the biggest lesson the kid, both kids, get is How To Play The Game–Politally. 

    And all that said, I DO think it’s ok to move a kid up. But you have to keep your eyes/mind open because sometimes it can take a kid a couple years to really show what they can do. and EVERY kid needs the oppurtunity to improve and excell. And you only get better by playing with people who are better than you. And NOT every kid who outperforms in 8th grade will still be outperforming in 10th grade. And then there’s also just this little idea that playing in more that one sport is not only good for your body, working different muscles, letting some other rest etc. If you are such an exceptional athlete, you’re determined, competitive, aggressive and noone’s gonna stop you. So say you’re specializing in hockey, but for whatever reason you can’t play for this semester, you will go play softabll because you HAVE to play something. And that’s what makes you an athlete. So you’ll play and you’ll excell. Because there are some things that can’t be taught and can’t even be learned. Like the natural gift of knowing the game and having everything out there make sense and the bodily ability to adapt. So anyway, the chosen one might make it, or might not, depending on what their own level of passion was in the first place. Not their coaches, or parents, thiers. And the other not chosen one, she might make it too but it’ll come a lot harder and it’s a tough lesson to have to learn. Politcs is high school sports is just like politcs everywhere. There are some who try to make a difference, but it aint easy to fight the system.    I’m sorry this is so long. I’m a little passionate on this subjsect and I’ve been on BOTH sides of that fence.

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