Sports schedules for high school athletes could get a lot busier if a proposed revision to a California Interscholastic Federation bylaw is passed.
The CIF is considering a removal of restrictions on participating on non-high school teams during the high school season of the same sport. In other words, an athlete could compete for a club team and a high school team in the same season in the same sport unless the club team is being coached by any member of that sport's high school coaching staff.
Currently, a California high school student becomes ineligible if he or she competes in a contest for an "outside" team in the same sport during the high school season of that sport, with some exceptions.
The proposed revision will be discussed at the North Coast Section Board of Managers meeting Friday at Mira Vista Golf & Country Club in El Cerrito. The CIF Federated Council is expected to vote on the revision on May 2.
"I'm a bit surprised," said Richmond High boys soccer coach Rene Siles when informed about the proposed revision. "How are (players) going to find the time to play club during high school? It's not a practical thing. There's no time."
Siles also pointed out a possible health issue. "I think it is a danger physically for the player," he said.
The revision would apply to all sports, but it could have a particular impact on soccer and swimming.
For soccer, the current rule is in effect only during the winter high school soccer season.
"I think (the proposal) is kind of a double-edged sword. As much as I want to work with the local club, once (the players) are able to do both, there will be conflict," San Ramon Valley girls soccer coach Mark Jones said. "I personally like the separation now. If I had my choice, I would rather have it remain the same."
In swimming and diving, California high school athletes can currently compete for an amateur team in only particular national and sectional meets during the high school season.
"If a USS (United States Swimming) team goes to a major meet in March, they may say 'I would like you to not swim the high school meets.' That's not good. It creates a conflict that's not needed," said Campolindo swimming coach Ron Heidary, who is also a co-head coach of the Orinda Aquatics. "(A revision is) positive. It eliminates potential conflicts."
NCS commissioner Gil Lemmon said that the reason why the CIF Executive Committee placed this revision on the agenda for discussion and possible action is the age of the bylaw. Its origins date back to 1929 and the latest revision was in 1985.
According to the CIF, 26 states have eliminated this prohibition as of 2011 and now allow outside participation concurrent with the high school team.
Other large states such as Texas, Florida and New York have completely eliminated the rule and have seen their high school sports continue to flourish and expand in participation, according to the CIF.
"By not having a rule, it puts the responsibility with the parent," Lemmon said. "Parents need to be ultimately responsible ... for their child's level of participation.