The hottest issue at Thursday's Southern Section Council meeting--the controversial rule governing students' participation in athletics outside their season of sport--wasn't an action item on the agenda. But it will be in May.
The issue arose from a CIF Blue Book Committee recommendation to the council that it consider repealing the outside-competition rule in soccer.
The rule states that a high school soccer player with remaining eligibility may compete on a non-school-sponsored soccer team outside his or her high school season and during the school year, so long as the non-school-sponsored team has no more than five players from the school team.
Dr. William Brand, principal at Trabuco Hills High School and Pacific Coast League representative, took the recommendation one step further. He proposed that outside-competition rules be eliminated for all sports.
After much debate, council members decided to make this recommendation an action item at their next meeting, May 7.
Many CIF-sanctioned sports have rules restricting participation for high school athletes on youth and club teams. In volleyball, for instance, a non-school-sponsored team may have only four members from one high school program on its team.
The same goes for softball and baseball, and non-school-sponsored water polo teams may have only three athletes from a particular program.
If all outside-competition rules were repealed, it would allow entire high school teams to play together outside their season of sport during the school year.
Proponents of the rule fear that its elimination might lead to specialization of athletes. For instance, an outstanding girls' volleyball player might forgo basketball to play club volleyball in the winter.
Opponents said it is next to impossible to police non-school sponsored club and youth teams. They said that if the rule for soccer is repealed it should be repealed for all sports in the name of consistency.
Stan Thomas, Southern Section commissioner, wanted council members to take more than six weeks to consider the rule.
"This will have a major impact, and if we try to resolve it in six weeks we'd be doing a major disservice to the section," Thomas said.
Thomas said he wanted to survey the section's principals and pass the information back to the leagues and advisory committees for further discussion. He wanted the issue to wait until the September meeting for a vote.
But Dr. Dennis Evans, Corona del Mar High principal and Sea View League representative, disagreed.
"This has been a problem we've had for years," he said. "I think we could look at the issue and come up with a decision in six weeks."
With that, Brand moved to make it a separate proposal for May. And that was one issue the members could agree upon.
In other business, the council passed a proposal to increase the number of divisions in the state basketball playoffs from three to five.