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We need to bury the thought of pro/rel in SC HS soccer. We can't even get the league to allow ties, imagine trying to figure out how pro/rel would work.

I do think that these schools that have a distinct recruiting advantage over the traditional high schools should be required to play a level higher than their student population. Georgia implemented this recently for their league & it has created a more level (not perfect) playing field b/w the private/charter schools & traditional schools.


Misael Garzon
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"I also wouldn't schedule you if you had a player that was on my team or lived in my zone. There is nothing worse than playing against a player that should, for all intent purposes, be playing on your team and helping your team get better."

I understand, and agree to a point. But as a current parent see another side to it. Maybe your program (both academic and sports) is great, run great, offers every opportunity and chance that any program should, and has infinite roster spots (at least relative to the players available). Maybe you work to build a relationship with each athlete that is respectful and deserving of loyalty in both directions. But that is not true for every program out there. And what has any program, academic or sports, done to be the sole arbitrer of a student's HS sports experience besides share a ZIP code?

If school choice is real, and it really is about education first, then students should not be punished in the secondary aspect of sports for pursuing better education. Current HS student of mine plays two sports at a 5A school. Lack of true academic guidance at this school hurts this student. Counselor just goes through graduation checklist once a year, doesn't actively monitor progress or what student wants to do. Student was recently struggling badly in a class for better part of a full quarter, but to my surprise when we go in to select next years classes she is recommended for AP/Honors in this subject. In other words, Teacher/counselor both completely unaware of the struggles. Student has good attitude and tries hard. No issues with any teachers, and even this one class was recommended for higher level based on something. But this same pattern of lack of engagement I also saw with our first kid who, literally all A's and took every AP/Honors they could take, asked a teacher for a reference for a college application and the teacher said "I don't have the time for that.". I asked counselor for help, counselor said "Your student just has to keep bugging the teachers for what they need". While the lack of support didn't really matter with the first kid, I actually went to a lunch and learn at Gray's looking for an alternative for the second. (FWIW -- Was impressed with the mechanisms for support in place there.) Should my student athlete sit out a year of HS athletics, an experience they will never get back, if she applies to and transfers to Gray's? The rules say yes.

Yes, some will and do really transfer just because of sports, but is that really a bigger problem to the "home" school than kids transferring for academics? One of the HS sports programs my current student is in has been an extremely positive experience for this student athlete. The other sport, where the student is actually more naturally gifted and has more interest (follows pros, etc), has not been. I won't go into details or blame, because why should you blame the coach, the athlete (or me) based only on my word/post? Bottom line, neither the team nor the athlete are going to benefit fully if this athlete continues to stay with this program. It happens at all levels of all sports, some programs and athletes don't "fit" together. Sometimes for bad reasons, sometimes "just because". I don't want the athlete to give up this other sport, but expect that is the writing on the wall at our current school. And unlike soccer, this other sport does not have a club or rec system for the athlete to turn to. So, let's just say there are some good faith reasons an athlete might want to change schools for sports. The current status quo is that sports are important enough that you can't just change schools outside your district and play without sitting a year, but it isn't important enough that a student can change schools to get away from a bad situation, or in some cases to even have a chance to play.

(FWIW -- In the end we didn't apply to Gray's even though I believe the academic support and opportunities there would be better. We are engaged parents and hope to overcome the issues we see at our "home" school and, among other considerations, want to avoid taking the opportunity for the HS team experience from our student athlete for a year. I struggle with whether we have made the best choice, and to be honest, do not feel we would have made the same choice if not for the steep punishment imposed on the student athlete for transferring. And that, to me, says that maybe the wrong thing is being protected.

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Originally Posted by helicopter
"I also wouldn't schedule you if you had a player that was on my team or lived in my zone. There is nothing worse than playing against a player that should, for all intent purposes, be playing on your team and helping your team get better."

I understand, and agree to a point. But as a current parent see another side to it. Maybe your program (both academic and sports) is great, run great, offers every opportunity and chance that any program should, and has infinite roster spots (at least relative to the players available). Maybe you work to build a relationship with each athlete that is respectful and deserving of loyalty in both directions. But that is not true for every program out there. And what has any program, academic or sports, done to be the sole arbitrer of a student's HS sports experience besides share a ZIP code?

If school choice is real, and it really is about education first, then students should not be punished in the secondary aspect of sports for pursuing better education. Current HS student of mine plays two sports at a 5A school. Lack of true academic guidance at this school hurts this student. Counselor just goes through graduation checklist once a year, doesn't actively monitor progress or what student wants to do. Student was recently struggling badly in a class for better part of a full quarter, but to my surprise when we go in to select next years classes she is recommended for AP/Honors in this subject. In other words, Teacher/counselor both completely unaware of the struggles. Student has good attitude and tries hard. No issues with any teachers, and even this one class was recommended for higher level based on something. But this same pattern of lack of engagement I also saw with our first kid who, literally all A's and took every AP/Honors they could take, asked a teacher for a reference for a college application and the teacher said "I don't have the time for that.". I asked counselor for help, counselor said "Your student just has to keep bugging the teachers for what they need". While the lack of support didn't really matter with the first kid, I actually went to a lunch and learn at Gray's looking for an alternative for the second. (FWIW -- Was impressed with the mechanisms for support in place there.) Should my student athlete sit out a year of HS athletics, an experience they will never get back, if she applies to and transfers to Gray's? The rules say yes.

Yes, some will and do really transfer just because of sports, but is that really a bigger problem to the "home" school than kids transferring for academics? One of the HS sports programs my current student is in has been an extremely positive experience for this student athlete. The other sport, where the student is actually more naturally gifted and has more interest (follows pros, etc), has not been. I won't go into details or blame, because why should you blame the coach, the athlete (or me) based only on my word/post? Bottom line, neither the team nor the athlete are going to benefit fully if this athlete continues to stay with this program. It happens at all levels of all sports, some programs and athletes don't "fit" together. Sometimes for bad reasons, sometimes "just because". I don't want the athlete to give up this other sport, but expect that is the writing on the wall at our current school. And unlike soccer, this other sport does not have a club or rec system for the athlete to turn to. So, let's just say there are some good faith reasons an athlete might want to change schools for sports. The current status quo is that sports are important enough that you can't just change schools outside your district and play without sitting a year, but it isn't important enough that a student can change schools to get away from a bad situation, or in some cases to even have a chance to play.

(FWIW -- In the end we didn't apply to Gray's even though I believe the academic support and opportunities there would be better. We are engaged parents and hope to overcome the issues we see at our "home" school and, among other considerations, want to avoid taking the opportunity for the HS team experience from our student athlete for a year. I struggle with whether we have made the best choice, and to be honest, do not feel we would have made the same choice if not for the steep punishment imposed on the student athlete for transferring. And that, to me, says that maybe the wrong thing is being protected.

There are already too many instances in our state throughout all sports of families trying to find any imaginable loophole to transfer to a preferred school and athletics being a primary reason for the state to allow any situation to be acceptable and not get the 1 year ban. While I understand your situation (we are currently dealing with something similar academically with one of our children, but sports isn't involved), I know that it would be a nightmare because many people will try to take advantage and say that they're transferring to X school for academic reasons.

Ultimately the HSL is restricted on what they can do to make the playing field as fair as possible given the distinct advantages some of the schools have in regard to zoning, recruiting, half day schedules for athletics, etc. But if these 1a/2a schools decide that it's not fair to play these schools that have a distinct advantage and there are no repercussions except a 1-0 forfeit loss on your record, I will not be surprised if more schools opt to do that to try and send a message to the league.


Misael Garzon
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They don't even have to look for a loophole. The ones who really want to do it are just moving and avoiding the year off anyways, or going to private schools where they don't have to sit. Had a neighbors nephew from FL move in with them for 2 years to play football at the local HS football factory. Current rules aren't stopping any of the people chasing the prestige programs, especially in a sport that leans to the wealthy like soccer. The kids displaced on the "home" teams? Tough luck. Meanwhile, some nearby schools in some sports can't even get enough interest to field JV teams.

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This whole topic is a difficult one. Between sport specific schools (with a half day of class and a half day of practice), magnet schools (there are a lot) and schools that have sport specific class (the coach brings in all of their program and has them in class 5 days a week for the entire first semester so they start practicing 5 months before everyone); you are talking about approximately 2/3 of the high schools in SC. There are only 2 real solutions, but the HSL will never do it and the sport specific schools would absolutely sue. The solutions...

1. Pull all of the above schools and split them into 3 divisions based on size. Take all the remaining schools and split them into 3 divisions. Allow regions to be a mix of the two and let everyone into the playoffs (except football maybe because they would be playing into January).
OR
2. Have every school submit a master list of every student that went through the eligibility process. Put schools in divisions based on the total number of athletes. The sport specific schools that require you play a sport to attend would have 600 athletes in a school of 600. I would guess that there are some current 4A schools if not some 5A schools who don't have that many athletes and the 1A-3A schools definitely not have that many athletes. Students can't play without going through the eligibility process and the HSL could put in severe punishments for incorrectly submitting a total athlete list (1st offense no home playoff games in any sport, 2nd offense no playoffs in any sport).

But like I said, some of the schools that think the current set-up is fair would immediately sue saying they are being punished. If you look at the state titles in team sports in A-AAA over the last 10 years, it would be hard to argue that the smaller public schools are not currently being punished.

It's all going to be a moot point soon when the state passes a law that allows any student to go to any school in the state. It's going to be the Wild West in terms of recruiting when everyone can do it.

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OK, here is my proposal, based partly on the system in the state I grew up in, and partly on the belief that the current SC system is divided into groups too small. If you stay with me, I'll get to how it addresses the original topic. Root cause: too many regions and too many school size divisions creates a regular season that doesn't have any flexibility resulting in unfair pairings and qualifications. Schools have such little freedom/control over who they play.in the games that "count". We have regions with only 5 teams, and 4 of them make the state playoffs. And that 4th team, with a losing regional record, might even be a top 10 team in the state and make the second or third round of state playoffs, but we already know they aren't winning it all. Meanwhile, teams in some uneven regions with "advantaged" programs and only 1 or 2 playoff slots have no legitimate chance of making the playoffs, while those in others are practically guaranteed to. My proposal:

-Reduce the school size divisions from 5 to 4. Least critical part of proposal, but feel sliced too thin now. Any team can request to "play up". Allow teams/schools within some % of size cut-offs to apply to move up/down to balance a particular region or for specific circumstances. Mechanics for determining size division are probably not much different than now, just one less.
-Reduce the number of regions in the state to 4. This will put about 16-20 schools in each region at each size division.
-Instead of requiring a full regional regular season, institute regional play-offs. Top 2-4 teams from regional playoffs qualify for the state playoffs, depending on how big we want the state playoffs to be (8 teams, 12, 16?). Can be distributed evenly between districts, or weighted if regions aren't "even" on a sport by sport basis. With only 4 regions, probably evenly. In additional to regional champs, regions can have a meaningful consolation game to determine entry/placement in state playoffs.

To qualify for regional playoffs (regions could adjust terms to some level based on region/sport), teams have to:

-have a winning record OR one of the top 8-12 records (depending on size of regions/sport/etc) in the region. Can incorporate first round BYES to deal with fluctuating number of qualifying teams year to year.
-Play at least 50% of games against teams in same school size rating or bigger, and not more than 30% against schools from a smaller size ratings. Schools can push themselves against higher competition, but not to the point they play up and essentially "drop down" for playoffs.
-Play some % of games (50% maybe) against teams within the region (no size restriction). This combined with above size requirements will mean a team is playing a meaningful number of games against relevant competition.
-Regional administrators can waive above requirements for situations like uncontrollable hardships (games cancelled due to weather, illness, etc.)

How does this address the issue at hand? Teams have freedom to schedule whoever they want. Schools can schedule "independently" or groups of schools can form 4-8 team leagues if they want. The leagues can cross regional and school size boundaries, and schools can still qualify for their regional playoffs. Schools can try to game the system and schedule only cupcakes, but all that gets them is a first or second round beat down in the regional playoff. It doesn't knock anybody else out of the same opportunity. A team in a stacked area or league can still earn there way to regional playoffs because out of size division/region games aren't meaningless. Both the teams I described in the original paragraph can get in the district playoff and see how far they can go. Teams have more flexibility in who they schedule to have meaningful and competitive regular season. Regular season maintains more meaning for more teams through potential HS leagues and Regional qualification/rankings. With more flexible scheduling, teams near regional boundaries aren't penalized compared to those more centrally located.

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Originally Posted by Cav
I have no doubt that you tried to everything possible to affect this game in a positive manner. We've known each other for a VERY long time and I have no doubt that you only have the best interest of our game in mind.

I hope this next story will give you a different perspective. As we prepared for a team that had already beat us down and have beaten us down for years, I asked my players if they wanted to pack it in or try something different. They wanted to compete! They just wanted to play, come what may. I was taken aback. I came to realize that often for the kids on the unfortunate team it is about playing. It is about just getting out there and playing regardless of the score. In the end that is the best thing for our players.

I see who is in your region and I am sure that you can have 20-0 games often if you want to push it.

Best of luck in the remainder of your season. Mine will end much sooner than yours.
Thank you for sharing your perspective, and it's clear that you genuinely care about your players and the spirit of the game. Sometimes, the love for playing and the camaraderie between teammates matter the most.

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Originally Posted by helicopter
They don't even have to look for a loophole. The ones who really want to do it are just moving and avoiding the year off anyways, or going to private schools where they don't have to sit. Had a neighbors nephew from FL move in with them for 2 years to play football at the local HS football factory. https://eldfall-chronicles.com/product-category/miniatures/class/mage/ Current rules aren't stopping any of the people chasing the prestige programs, Nakiri knives especially in a sport that leans to the wealthy like soccer. The kids displaced on the "home" teams? Tough luck. Meanwhile, some nearby schools in some sports can't even get enough interest to field JV teams.
The dynamics you mentioned, such as students moving or attending private schools to participate in certain sports programs, can indeed create imbalances and challenges for other schools.

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