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Harkness Is Off-Base With Off-Season Plan

May 06, 1993

As a father of two athletes who have benefited from dedicated high school coaches who run extensive off-season programs, I am deeply disturbed by City Section Commissioner Hal Harkness' plan to ban off-season contact between players and coaches (Times Valley Section, May 1).

Mr. Harkness should be attempting to make his last acts as commissioner positive, not destructive. The Los Angeles Unified School District should be providing a structure that will allow room for excellence and not legislating mediocrity.

Is specialization in one sport wrong? Will all football players now play tennis, golf or baseball in the spring? Will 5-foot-6, 150-pound baseball players play football or basketball? Get serious--the athletes who would be adversely affected are the young and marginal players who will lose precious playing time and coaching time, whose last organized athletic experience will be high school athletics.

Why stop them from being the best they can be? Are they better off hanging out on the street corner?

Insurance is a concern that can easily be taken care of by properly drawn releases and waivers. The other concern voiced by San Fernando Coach Steve Marden, that off-season programs run by dedicated coaches place pressure to avoid losing ground upon other coaches, is actually an argument for allowing the status quo to continue. What would these programs become if they weren't pushed to compete?

Why is it that while the Southern Section has moved toward the current City Section rules--allowing more than four players from one high school to play together in the off-season (under the club team format)--the City Section seems bent on moving in the other direction?

All those dedicated men who run extensive off-season programs should be praised. Let these professionals continue educating and molding our young athletes into contributing adults. Hal, your last at-bat should be a hit, not a strikeout.

JEFF LaCOUR

Chatsworth High booster

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