South Carolina lawmakers should resist the temptation to take over high school sports.
Several lawmakers have threatened to do so. They are considering a bill that would eliminate the S.C. High School League and move the control of high school sports into the S.C. Department of Education. This would effectively make the state superintendent of education the commissioner of all high school sports.
That would be a mistake.
Some lawmakers are upset about rulings made by the league. They consider them harsh and extreme. The lawmakers are not unjustified in their frustration. Some of the league’s rulings have seemed overly severe, punishing an entire team when one minor player was found to be ineligible due to some technicality.
But lawmakers are unjustified in their view that they should exercise control over every aspect of life in the Palmetto State. Not all issues are proper subjects for legislation. And this is an example.
The S.C. High School League is effectively the means by which the schools and school districts come together to regulate their athletic competition.
The league is funded by dues schools pay and by income from playoff games. Leaders and board members of the league are chosen from schools and school associations.
School sports should be run by the schools and by school associations, not by politicians. No one should think that adding political concerns into high school sports decision-making is a good idea. Putting an elected official in charge of whether schools should be penalized for breaking league rules is asking for trouble. A superintendent of education looking to get re-elected is going to consider whether he needs votes in Spartanburg County before he considers a ruling appeal by one of our high schools.
Lawmakers need to learn that there is not a governmental solution to every problem. They aren’t happy with the way the schools are running their sports programs.
High school sports are not their purview. They belong to the schools. Lawmakers should have no say in the matter.
In particular, they are extending their authority beyond reasonable bounds when they threaten to abolish the league if its leaders don’t make changes they are demanding. ...
Lawmakers should back off and recognize that sports calls lie outside their jurisdiction. Then they should get back to the larger problems facing our state.
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