4 Year Varsity Eligibility?

Macy Johnson, Contributor

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Many eighth graders play sports that are not offered at their middle school.  As a solution to this, many schools allow the eighth-grade students to move up and play on the high school junior varsity team.  This sounds like the perfect alternative until you look into it further. Some high school teams have no junior varsity team and only have a varsity squad.  Now I know what you might be thinking, “Why can’t you just join the varsity team?” Sadly, in many school districts, students may only play on a varsity team for 4 years.  This changes things for many middle schoolers playing tennis, golf, or cross country.

Let me explain this 4-year eligibility rule.  This rule states that a student must officially be in high school in order to participate in varsity sports. This is because you may only play for four years which is how long most students are in high school. However, this rule does not include junior varsity teams. Junior varsity is excluded because they want to give students from lower grades a chance to participate in a team environment. The only bad thing about junior varsity being excluded is that the VHSL believes they have solved the issue when it really has not been solved.  They do not see that eighth-grade students are still being excluded from the team due to there grade because there is no junior varsity team.

Coming from my own experiences, this rule confuses me.  Why do you need to limit the number of years students can play on a varsity team?  Salem High School allows the students to practice with the team even though they are not technically on the team.   This is a good compromise, but there should be less restriction on the limitations of students playing sports. Because of this rule, the students practicing with the team get excluded from tournaments and other events that the rest of the team gets to go to.  This becomes a problem when parents become angry because their child can not participate in the sport. This puts lots of stress on the high schools.

The way to fix this issue is to extend the number of years students can play on the varsity teams. If schools were to do this, not only could students play on varsity teams in middle school, but the high schools could also pull the best players from the middle schools and add them to the varsity teams.  Even if only one year is added to the limit, it would greatly help young athletes gain confidence and skills to become successful.

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