In my mind and without question, one rule change that has resulted in the best outcomes to encourage and promote participation in local high school sports involved an adjustment to the transfer policy that delegates approved just last year.
Up until April of 2019, the OFSAA transfer policy was applied to the letter at the local level to all students transferring schools, regardless of age, gender, category of competition or sport involved.
Though undeniably fair, the policy was equal parts undeniably restrictive, applying eligibility limitations to students clearly transferring for reasons unrelated to sport, and in age groups or sports not eligible for post-SDSSAA play.
Though phys-ed delegates clearly understood this, motions to effect change either weren’t accepted due to logistical concerns or never even made it to the floor, bogging down over wording issues or unintended interpretations.
All that changed last year when a simple sentence was added as a precursor to transfer application procedures that simply holds that eligibility restrictions in the student’s new school may only be applied to NOSSA- and OFSAA-eligible sports played in the previous school in the 12 months prior to the date of transfer.
Where previously eligibility restrictions would grudgingly be applied to novice athletes or Division II athletes, these particular students are now allowed to play the sports they enjoy in their new schools for SDSSAA competition.
No doubt, members of the transfer appeal committee were breathing a small sigh of relief when the motion passed. As difficult as it was for a transfer student to hear he or she would not be eligible to play their beloved sport in their new school, it was just as difficult for the committee, bound by regulation, to have to deliver this bad news, especially if the case had no bearing on NOSSA or OFSAA qualification.
Already, the number of cases requiring to be heard via local appeal, necessary when transfers cannot be approved by virtue of administrative first glance, has seen a sharp decline this school year.
Understanding that often the students transferring in these circumstances have the very most to gain from continuing to participate in their new schools, that very often the reasons behind the transfer are personal and sensitive in nature, this rule change strikes a balance between the need to follow OFSAA rules to help balance the playing field and preserve eligibility at this level, while continuing to promote healthy, active living to our youth
And this is a very good thing indeed.
The Wrap this Week
This past week, NOSSA alpine and Nordic skiing was successfully hosted while today and tomorrow boys basketball and girls volleyball take centre stage as follows:
– Girls volleyball: Friday, starting at 11 a.m. at College Boreal
– Boys basketball: Division II Friday night, starting at 5 p.m. at Bishop Carter, Division I Saturday starting at noon at the senior highest seed (not known at time of publication).
Keep checking www.sdssaa.ca for updated matchups and results. The Sudbury Star will follow with full coverage of the championships online and in print.
Dave Makela is the athletic administrator for the Sudbury District Secondary Schools Athletic Association. His high school sports column runs weekly during the school year.