Wednesday, December 11, 2019






AHSAA Mourns Death of Legendary Official Sam Short

    The AHSAA is mourning the death of long-time football official Sam Short of Vestavia Hills. Short passed away Sunday.
    “Sam Short played an integral role in mentoring high school officials in Alabama and across the nation,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “Our heart and prayers go out to his family.  His leadership has helped AHSAA officials become some of the best in the nation. Sam Short dedicated most of his life to high school athletics and officiating within the Alabama High School Athletic Association. A great friend to us all, he will be sorely missed.”
  A consummate professional  who spent more than four decades as a teacher, coach and administrator in the AHSAA, Short served as state rules interpreter and state camp administrator for many years during his tenure.  He, along with former AHSAA Director of Officials Greg Brewer, established most of the AHSAA state camps and training.
    Mr. Short, a longtime football, basketball and baseball official, worked numerous state championships in all three sports in the AHSAA. He was inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame (2007), the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame (1993) and most recently, was inducted into the Alabama Sports Officials inaugural Hall of Fame last August. 
     No details concerning funeral arrangements are available at this time.
     Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Highland Home Self-Reports Bona Fide Move Violation; forfeits six victories

     MONTGOMERY – Highland Home High School has been fined and placed on probation for one year for violating AHSAA eligibility rules. The school self-reported the violation.
       Highland Home played an ineligible student in violation of the AHSAA’s Bona Fide Transfer Rule, which can be found on page 33 of the 2019-20 AHSAA Handbook.
       Highland Home’s football program must forfeit all games won that the ineligible student participated in. Highland Home’s football team has forfeited its Class 2A, Region 3 wins over Central-Hayneville, Calhoun, Samson, Zion Chapel and Luverne as well as its non-region win over Verbena.
       The Flying Squadron’s season record is now 1-7 overall and 1-5 in Region 2. The 2A, Region 3 standings on-line at now reflect the forfeits for all teams affected.

Central Board Approves Counting Enrollment Numbers Grades 9 thru 11 for Classification

Action Taken at Fall Board Meeting Thursday

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control unanimously approved changing the current method of using average daily membership (ADM) numbers for grades 10, 11 and 12 to using grades 9, 10 and 11 to determine classification of its member schools. The change begins immediately and will be used for the classification period for 2020-21 and 2021-22.
    The average daily membership is counted by each member school using the first 20 school days after Labor Day.
     The action was taken at the Central Board of Control quarterly meeting at the AHSAA office Thursday, October 17.
    “This should give us a more accurate accounting of the number of students who could become eligible to participate in the AHSAA championship program for the next classification period,” said Alvin Briggs, Associate Executive Director of the AHSAA, who works closely with classification.
       Executive Director Steve Savarese praised the Central Board’s decision, thanked the Alabama State Department of Education, Mr. Briggs and Assistant Director Jamie Lee for their study and research.
      “When the AHSAA began classifying member schools in multiple classes years ago, most ninth-grade students were attending junior highs. We now have just four junior high schools in the AHSAA and those schools only feed one school,” he said. “We also found several schools have students who are being counted in the senior class numbers that no longer have eligibility to participate in the AHSAA. However, every ninth grader has a chance to become eligible to participate over the two-year classification period.”
      The Central Board, in a continuing effort to help the member schools financially, approved the removal of the 5% basketball tournament sanction fee assessed to member schools hosting regular-season tournaments and approved a plan to reduce the cost of contest officials during the playoffs for all sports.
    AHSAA Chief Financial Officer Randal Beesley also informed the Central Board during his finance report that the Revenue Share payment to member schools for the 2018-19 school year totaling $2 million was mailed earlier this month. The Revenue Share program has now paid out $15.4 million to member schools since its inception in 2010.
    The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering, public school in Huntsville, was approved for associate membership by the Central Board.
In other board action Wednesday:

  • Approved a rotation of Central Board/Legislative Council Bi-District members to coincide with District Board rotation.
  • Heard a presentation from Michael McGreevey of Knight-Eady concerning the upcoming 2019 Super 7 State Football Championships to be held at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium and approved the Super 7 projected expenses.
  • Approved the budget for the upcoming 33rd annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game, which will be played at Hattiesburg, MS on December 14.
  • Heard an update concerning the Section III meeting to be hosted by the AHSAA in 2022.
  • Tabled a vote on the baseball playoff rotation for the 2016-17 school year until after the new classification has been determined.
  • Discussed baseball playoff rotation/travel options.
  • Heard a report from Kim Vickers, Director of Publications, concerning future printing contract options and cost savings and discussed eBook pricing.
  • Received an update from members of the Transfer Committee.
  • Heard a report from the Classification Committee concerning sports that have three or less divisions.

Class 4A White Plains Hosts Jacksonville in AHSAA TV Network (WOTM) Game of the Week

jacksonville white plains.JPG

177 Events Planned by NFHS Network SBP Schools

    MONTGOMERY – White Plains High School’s football program has only had six head coaches in its 48 years since playing its first season in 1972. However, Coach Chandler Tyree, in his first season at the helm, is the fourth head coach in the program this decade.
     The last winning season for the Wildcats came in 2003, and in the five previous seasons White Plains totaled just six wins while going 6-44.
    Chandler is changing those dynamics, however, as the Wildcats (3-4) host Class 4A, Region 6 leader Jacksonville (6-2) in the AHSAA TV Network/NFHS Network Game of the Week. WOTM TV, under the direction of executive producer Vince Earley, is producing the contest – the seventh in the 2019 Game-of-the Week series.
     The game will be live-streamed over the NFHS Network subscriber-based program and will also be available on the network of cable stations that have joined the WOTM Network in Alabama. Veteran announcer Tommy Wood and legendary football coach Rick Rhoades will be handling the commentary for the WOTM production.
      Earley also announced next week’s AHSAA TV Network Game of the Week pairing: Briarwood Christian at Fairfield on Oct. 24.
      White Plains could clinch its first playoff berth since 1994 with a win over Jacksonville tonight and a win over Oneonta next week. While that task is a tall order, the good news is that White Plains is still in the hunt.
     Topping the Golden Eagles of Coach Clint Smith, who are 5-0 in Region 6 and could clinch their second straight region title a win over White Plains, feature one of the state’s top running backs in senior Ron Wiggins. The powerful runner set a school record last season with 409 rushing yards in over Cleburne County and had a personal high of six rushing touchdowns in last week’s 55-21 win over Oneonta.
     He can run with power – scoring three TDs last week on runs of 1, 2 and 6 yards, but he is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. He also had TD runs of 84, 18 and 10 yards. Named All-State as a junior, Wiggins is one of several weapons in the Eagles’ lineup.
     Smith, currently in his eighth season as head coach, is 61-26 during that span and 16-3 over the last 19 games. Hos overall record in the AHSAA is 99-27 with the school’s next win being the 100th of his coaching career. He also spent three years coaching eight-man football at a non-member school. He directed Jacksonville to just its third unbeaten regular season in 98 years in 2018. The Eagles were 6-0-1 in their first season in 1920, finished 10-1in 1999 and 11-1 last season – losing in the second round of the 4A state playoffs to Good Hope.
    White Plains quarterback Jaden Chatman has been solid, and receiver Ethan Bozart is one of the best in Region 6.
     The NFHS Network School Broadcast Program has two varsity football games set for live-streaming tonight with Eufaula and Carver-Montgomery the other one at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery. Friday’s slate has 60 offerings, including a battle of undefeated teams in Class 7A--Region 3 with Mountain Brook (7-0) at Thompson (7-0) in a game designed by the NFHS Network as one of five National Games of the Week.
      In addition, 25 varsity volleyball matches are set for tonight and a total of 177 events currently set to be live-streamed by AHSAA member schools participating in the NFHS School Broadcast Program through the weekend. Currently, two area volleyball tournaments, Class 1A Areas 11 and 15 at Spring Garden and Lindsay Lane, are scheduled to live-stream selected matches next Monday. More are expected to be scheduled over the weekend.
    Among the 60 varsity football games set to be live-streamed Friday are: Class 3A: Westminster Christian (5-2) at Lauderdale County (7-1); Class 4A: Escambia County (4-4) at UMS-Wright (7-0); Class 5A: Jasper (7-0) at Russellville (6-1); Scottsboro (5-2) at Madison Academy (5-2); Class 6A: Athens (6-2) at Muscle Shoals (8-0); Clay-Chalkville (5-2) at Muscle Shoals; Opelika (6-1) at Stanhope Elmore (7-1); Spanish Fort (4-2) at Blount (6-1);  Class 7A: James Clemens (5-2) at Sparkman (8-0; and Vestavia Hills (5-2) at Hoover (6-1).  
    Other headliners Friday include Class 1A: Waterloo (7-1) at defending Class 1A state champ Mars Hill Bible (7-0) in Region 8; Class 2A: J.U. Blacksher (7-1) at Leroy (6-1) in Region 1; Ariton (6-2) at unbeaten G.W. Long in Region 2; and North Sand Mountain (5-2) at Fyffe (7-0) in Region 8; Class 3A: Montgomery Academy (5-3) at Pike Road (8-0) in Region 3; Walter Wellborn (7-1) at Pleasant Valley (5-2) in Region 6; Geraldine (5-2) at Susan Moore (8-0) in Region 7; Class 4A: Holtville (6-2) at Talladega (4-2) in Region 4; Class 5A: Faith Academy (7-0) at Jackson (4-3) in Region 1; Ramsay  (7-1) at Briarwood Christian (6-2) in Region 4; Sylacauga (7-2) at Central, Clay County (5-2) in Region 5; Alexandria (6-0) at Etowah (7-1) in Region 6; Class 7A: Auburn (5-2) at Prattville (7-1) in Region 2.
    Hewitt-Trussville also plans to live-stream the Husky Challenge Cross Country Invitational on Saturday.
         The complete AHSAA schedule of football and volleyball contests set to be livestreamed over the NFHS Network this weekend can be found at the following links:


    A subscription allows the viewer access to any events on the NFHS Network. Monthly and yearly subscriptions are available. For more information on how to subscribe, go to the following link:

For information concerning the AHSAA TV Network’s cable football game availability, got to the following link:

THE NFHS VOICE: No Linkage to CTE From Playing High School Football

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director

    When it comes to the long-term effects of concussions in sports, there is a wide range of information published – almost on a daily basis. Unfortunately, much of the media coverage as it relates to high school sports – and particularly the sport of football – is misleading.

    Last week, the Concussion Legacy Foundation introduced its new public-service announcement that compared youth football dangers to smoking. As the pre-teen football players puff on cigarettes, the voiceover says, “Tackle football is like smoking, the younger I start, the longer I’m exposed to danger.”

    The “Tackle Can Wait” campaign by the foundation is an attempt to steer children under the age of 14 into flag football. Although establishing a finite age may be difficult, reducing contact at youth levels is certainly a positive. USA Football is doing just that nationally through its Football Development Model. Likewise, the 51-member state associations of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) have enacted limitations on contact during preseason and practice sessions.

    Our concern is the term “exposed to danger.” These types of messages continue to spread unwarranted fear to parents of high school student-athletes. The “danger” refers to reports that players who incur repeated concussions can develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

    A 2017 study from the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) linked CTE in the brains of deceased National Football League players. Even if this report is accurate, these are individuals who endured repeated blows to the head for 20 to 25 years BEFORE any concussion protocols were in place.

    Less publicized is a study by Dr. Munro Cullum and his colleagues at the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, which is a part of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Cullum’s group studied 35 former NFL players age 50 and older who had sustained multiple concussions throughout their careers. The findings showed no significant association between the length of the individuals’ careers, the number of concussions and their cognitive function later in life.

    Two studies, two different conclusions. Regardless of the outcome, however, they are not applicable to kids playing football before and during high school. There is absolutely no linkage to CTE at these levels, and the word “danger” should not be a part of the discussion.

    A more applicable and significant study was also published in JAMA in 2017. In a study of about 4,000 men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957, there was no difference in cognitive function or decline between those who played football and those who did not as they reached 65 years of age. We would assume the majority of these individuals discontinued football after high school.

    With more than one million boys – and girls – playing the contact sport of football each year, severe injuries do occur from time to time, but parents should know that efforts to lessen the risk of a catastrophic injury, including head injuries, have never been stronger than they are today.  

    In fact, new data from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study indicates some positive trends in concussion rates. The study, which was released in the American Academy of Pediatrics online issue of Pediatrics this week, indicated that concussion rates during football practices dropped from 5.47 to 4.44 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures between the 2013-14 and 2017-18 seasons.

    In addition, repeat concussion rates across all sports declined from 0.47 to 0.28 per 10,000 exposures during the same time period.


    Concussion laws are in place in every state. All NFHS sports rules books have concussion management protocols. Helmet-to-helmet hits are not allowed in football. Limits on contact in preseason and practice in football are in place in every state.

After considering all the available research, we encourage parents to let their kids play their sport of choice in high school, but we would discourage moving away from football – or any contact sport – solely based on the fear of developing CTE later in life.


Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS, which celebrated its 100th year of service during the 2018-19 school year. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.

Jackson, Chelsea High Schools Self-Report Eligibility Violations, Forfeit Games

       MONTGOMERY –Jackson High School and Chelsea High School have been fined for violating the AHSAA eligibility rules. Both schools self-reported the violations.
   Jackson played an ineligible student in violation of the AHSAA’s Enrollment Rule, which can be found on page 25 of the
2019-20 AHSAA Handbook. The student transferred from a non-member school but lived outside the school district which served Jackson High School.
    Jackson has forfeited its Class 5A, Region 1 wins over Satsuma and Wilcox Central. The Aggies’ region record is now 1-2 and 3-3 overall. Satsuma, now 4-3, improves to 2-2 in Region 1, and Wilcox Central is 1-4 overall and 1-3 in Region 1.

   Chelsea High School self-reported playing a student-athlete in violation of the AHSAA Contest Rule’s Team Practice Restrictions Rule, which can be found in Section 14 on page 49 of the 2019-20 AHSAA Handbook. The student participated in a contest before completing the required 13 days of practice. Chelsea has forfeited its regular-season non-region win over Briarwood Christian. The Class 6A Hornets’ record is now 3-3 overall and Class 5A Briarwood is now 5-1.

Week 7 Has Two Calls Reversed in 10 Challenges for Schools Using AHSAA’s DVSport Instant Replay

Current Season Reversal Percentage is 24.4%

MONTGOMERY – Five of seven AHSAA varsity high school football contests using DVSport Instant Replay last week had a season-high total of 10 challenges with two calls reversed, reports AHSAA Director of Officials Mark Jones.
This week, four games will be utilizing the DVSport Instant Replay with seven schools taking part for the first time this season.
    The Week 7 report had two games with no challenges. Out of ten the 10 challenges, two were reversed upon review.  Both reversals resulted in changing a completed pass to an incomplete pass.
    The reversed calls were as follow, said Jones.
Reversed plays: 

Northside at Good Hope: Good Hope challenged a completed pass for Northside on a third down and 8 yards to go play.  After review, the pass was ruled incomplete.
Russellville at Lawrence County: Visiting Russellville challenged a completed pass by Lawrence County on a third-and-10 play. After review, the pass was ruled incomplete.
   The other challenges involved fumbles, goal-line play, catch/no catch, and Arab challenged a fumble call in its contest with East Limestone challenging that the quarterback’s arm was moving forward, thus the fumble should have been ruled an incomplete pass. Upon review, however, the call stood as called on the field – a fumble.

    A total of 41 calls on the field have resulted in 10 been reversed this season, a percentage of 24.4%. The percentage is a slight decrease from 25.8% rate after week five.
   DVSport Instant Replay is in its second year of implementation. The NFHS has granted the AHSAA a three-year period to experiment with instant replay in regular-season games.
    Jones reported that the Instant Replay reviews this fall have consisted of the following:

41 reviews with 10 reversals.  24.4%



15 on catch/no catch

14 fumbles

5 breaking plane of goal line (note 2 were also fumble reviews)

1 Illegal participation

1 Illegal forward pass

2 Touching of punt

3 Forward progress

1 Penalty Enforcement Spot

1 Kick Out of Bounds

   A total of 55 schools have participated in AHSAA contests utilizing Instant Replay this season with six games scheduled for this Friday. New to the Instant Replay this week will be seven schools:  Arab, Benjamin Russell, Fairhope, Huffman, Northside, Russellville and Saraland. The complete list of games utilizing Instant Replay this week are listed below.

Week 7 Games with Instant Replay

Ardmore (5A) at East Limestone (5A)

Calera (6A) at Opelika (6A)

Huntsville (7A) at Austin (7A), Decatur

Lincoln (4A) at Handley (4A), Roanoke


Class 7A (13)
Central-Phenix City
Gadsden City
Jeff Davis
Smiths Station
Tuscaloosa County
Class 6A (16)
Benjamin Russell
Gulf Shores
Park Crossing
Sidney Lanier
St. Paul’s Episcopal
Class 5A (10)
Charles Henderson
East Limestone
Lawrence County
Madison County
Class 4A (7)
Good Hope
West Limestone
Class 3A (1)
Carbon Hill
Class 2A (1)
Class 1A (1)
Out-of-State (2)
Callaway (GA)
New Smyrna Beach (FL)




Veteran Officials ‘Hanging it Up’ Because of Unruly Behavior by Parents

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director

      About four weeks ago, we distributed an op-ed suggesting that inappropriate behavior by parents and other adult fans at high school sporting events was causing many officials to quit before they even reached two years on the job.

      Although we received mostly positive support from this article, some people thought we went too far in telling parents to “act your age” and “stay in your own lane.” On the contrary, perhaps we should have been more direct.

      Last week, one of our member state associations shared a resignation letter it had received from a 20-year veteran soccer official who had taken all the abuse he could handle. A portion of that letter follows:


      “Soccer parents: you are absolutely 100% the reason we have a critical refereeing shortage and games are being cancelled left and right. And you are at least a part of the reason I’m done here. The most entitled among you are the ones that scream the loudest. And every time you do this, you tell your son or daughter the following:

      “I do not believe in you, I do not believe in your team, I do not believe in your collective ability to overcome your own adversity and you absolutely will not win and cannot do this without me tilting the table in your favor.

            “On behalf of myself and so many other referees – and I say this with every ounce of my heart and soul – shut up about the referees, and let your kids rise or fall as a team, as a FAMILY. Because the vast majority of you truly have no idea what you’re talking about, and even if you have a legitimate gripe about one play or one decision, you’re not fixing anything.”


            And if that wasn’t enough, last week the Eastern Panhandle Youth Football League in West Virginia released the following statement:


            “Unfortunately, it has come to the point that because of the abuse, negativity and utter disrespect shown to our officials from parents, coaches and most recently from our players, the Eastern Panhandle Officials Association president stated today that the association will no longer schedule officials for our league games at any field. This means effective immediately all remaining games are cancelled.”


         This statement is from a youth league, which means the coaches are likely also parents of players, and the players are sons and daughters who are emulating their parents’ behavior.

         So, no, our previous message was not too direct or emphatic. The kind of boorish parental behavior that compels a 20-year soccer official to quit cannot be allowed to continue. While we would hope that parents and other fans would embrace the concepts of education-based athletics by respecting the efforts of those men and women who officiate high school sports, that unfortunately is not occurring in some cases.

            As a result, schools must adopt and enforce a strict, fan behavior policy. In soccer, a player receives a “yellow card” as a first warning for unsportsmanlike conduct. If the action occurs again, the player is hit with a “red card” and is ejected from the contest. Some schools have implemented a similar penalty structure for parents and other fans – not just at soccer games but all high school events. If the inappropriate behavior and verbal abuse of officials continues after one warning, the person is removed from the venue. There must be consequences for these offenders before we lose any more officials.

            Most of the 7.9 million participants in high school sports are on the fields and courts every day to have fun and compete as a team with their classmates, and the 300,000-plus officials assist in that process. Now, if parents would let the players play and the officials officiate! 

            Online link to article:




Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS, which celebrated its 100th year of service during the 2018-19 school year. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.



Spain Park, Grissom Set to Defend Championships as AHSAA Begins Second Year of esports Competition

Esports platform partners with AHSAA to offer students school-sanctioned esports, providing access to premier game titles and college scholarship opportunities

     PlayVS, the company bringing varsity esports to high schools across the country, today announced the start of the Fall 2019 season. Last year, 37 schools participated in the AHSAA, with Hoover’s Spain Park High School (16-2) winning the League of Legends championship and Huntsville’s Grissom High School (27-0) taking home the Rocket League crown. The current waitlist to build an interscholastic esports program with PlayVS is over 13,000 schools long -- 68% of all high schools -- and spans across all 50 US states. This puts esports on par with traditional programs like football, which is available in 14,247 schools.
     “The AHSAA is looking forward to the 2019-20 Esports season with PlayVS.  We are excited to be partnered with a great organization who promotes educational-based opportunities for our student-athletes,” said Marvin Chou, AHSAA Assistant Director who oversees Esports for the member schools. “We are on track to almost double the number of participating schools from our first year. This increase in numbers is proof that we are reaching a group of students that
may not be participating in any other traditional sport or activity.”   
    Member schools are embracing the newest AHSAA-sanctioned activity with 414 students participating in AHSAA competition in the first year.
      “Esports has had a profound impact on our student body and faculty,” said Justin Tolbert, the Esports coach at Baker High School. “Students from all backgrounds are buying into our program, and in the process, creating friendships that they wouldn't normally have. Our faculty has even shown great support for our program, asking students about their matches and offering words of encouragement to us coaches. All of this has contributed to legitimizing our sport and building respect for our students as true athletes.”
    During the first year of PlayVS’ ‘Seasons,’ esports teams nationwide had an average of 15 players per program, with one in three players participating in their first-ever school activity. More than 70% of the students who participated said they found a community to connect with, and more than 40% plan on using their esports experience to apply for colleges and universities. 
    “It is clear the impact esports has already had on these student-athletes,” said Dr. Clint Kennedy, Director of Education & Acquisition at PlayVS. “We are excited to continue to partner with teachers and schools to empower students to pursue their dreams.” 
      The deadline for schools to register for this upcoming Fall season is October 11th.
     For more information on PlayVS, please visit


PlayVS is the premier high school esports provider, in partnership with the NFHS and 17 state associations. Its product is the single destination where players come together to compete, fans gather to spectate and coaches manage their programs. Through partnerships with top game publishers, PlayVS powers inclusive league and State Championship play across the nation. For more information, visit






The Alabama High School Athletic Association, founded in 1921, is a private agency organized by its member schools to control and promote their athletic programs. The purpose of the AHSAA is to regulate, coordinate and promote the interscholastic athletic programs among its member schools, which include public, private and parochial institutions. Currently, there are 414 senior high members and 287 junior high and middle school members with more than 113,000 students participating in the program. Major aims of the AHSAA are to serve the needs of its member schools in conducting their interscholastic athletic programs and to assist member schools in reaching the educational objectives as established by the membership and their school systems.




Travel Ball Parents: Better Option is School-based Sports

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director

Recent articles have documented the rising costs of club sports, with one noting that about 62 percent of “travel ball” parents will go into debt to involve their kids in year-round sports.

            A USA Today article in 2017 suggested that travel baseball or volleyball could cost a family upwards of $8,000 a year, with soccer running about $5,000 on the high end. A study by TD Ameritrade suggested some parents were spending about $100 to $500 a month to fund their kids’ participation on a club team, with about 20 percent spending $1,000 a month.

            Why? In some cases – unquestionably the minority – students are in the elite category from a skills standpoint and could benefit from a higher level of competition in preparation for college. In most cases, however, it is a case of parents spending beyond their means with the hope that playing club sports will be the difference-maker in their children receiving an athletic scholarship to an NCAA Division I school.

            It is, in fact, true that an overwhelming majority of NCAA Division I athletes played club sports. According to an NCAA survey, 92 percent of women and 89 percent of men played club basketball, and 91 percent of women’s volleyball players competed on a non-school team in high school. At the other end, however, only 24 percent of football players competed on a club team.

            Herein lies the difference. There are more than 540,000 boys who played high school basketball last year and fewer than 6,000 who played basketball at the NCAA Division I level where most of the scholarships are available. Stated another way, about one percent of high school boys basketball players will play at the NCAA Division I level. About 2.8 percent of the one million-plus boys in high school 11-player football will play at the Division I level.

            The answer? Parents should encourage their kids to play multiple sports for their high school teams and save the money they would spend on club sports for college tuition if scholarship money does not materialize. Even in those situations where students are charged a modest fee to participate, school-based sports remain an incredible bargain when compared to club sports.

In many cases, Division I football and basketball coaches are looking to recruit multiple-sport athletes. While there are a few sports where non-school competition is crucial, college coaches will find those athletes who excel in school-based sports.

            High school-based sports have more interest, more media coverage and more fans than club sports, and the kids have more fun because they are representing their team and their community.

            Playing one sport in the fall, another during the winter and yet another in the spring is the best route to future success – whether that success is on the playing field or court, or in a boardroom.   





Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is beginning her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS, which celebrated its 100th year of service during the 2018-19 school year. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.