The controversy about (Southern Section) rulings against Montclair Prep demonstrates not only a grave injustice, but an enormous deficit in the organization we call CIF. In a civil court, citizens are tried by peers and sentenced according to their crimes, and we take great pains to protect the innocent. But Montclair Prep has innocent, teen-aged children who have been sentenced, without judge, jury, or even a vote, to a probation and restrictions that deny them a hope of any playoff or championship by which to remember their high school days. Meanwhile, it appears that certain adults get their hands slapped.
Children and their parents are easily seduced by the promise of playing with a winning program and being seen by "scouts." What young athlete would not envy the million-dollar salaries of the professional athletes they so admire? But the vast majority of students and parents who seek out small, private schools do so for the education therein. Most follow the rules.
The culprit is not Montclair Prep or its students, but a CIF governing body that allows its rules to be manipulated. The kids just want to play. So let them play, and fix the system. Schools found to have misconduct should have tighter surveillance and perhaps fines. All schools should have to produce records of eligibility and compliance upon request. Principals and, in turn, staff should be disciplined appropriately and monitored. And until the adults have their acts together, don't blame or punish the children. Teach accountability by example. After all, isn't high school a place where children are supposed to learn to play by the rules?