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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MHSAA stands by its age rule despite pressure

A story that came across the wire today. Thoughts?

ISHPEMING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan high school is hoping for a rule change that would allow a student with Down syndrome to play football and basketball next season with an age-limit waiver.

That would require the Michigan High School Athletic Association to change its constitution, which states that students who turn 19 before Sept. 1 are ineligible to play sports for the full school year. Eric Dompierre, who started school late because of his disability, turned 19 earlier in the school year.

MHSAA associate director Tom Rashid said a third request from Ishpeming High School. to have member schools vote on the matter was received Tuesday. Two-thirds of member schools would have to vote in favor of allowing students with disabilities to apply for a waiver.

Rashid said the MHSAA’s representative council has decided against the change, adding that feedback from other schools has been in favor of keeping the universal application of the absolute rule.

“The council has had a very open and thoughtful discussion about this, going back to Dec. 2010, and has decided not to advance the issue to the point of voting on a constitutional change,” Rashid said Wednesday. “Schools expressed concerns about the difficulty of dealing with the broadening definition of a disability and whether a student’s age could become an unfair competitive advantage.”

The age rule, according to the MHSAA, has survived every legal challenge.

Dean Dompierre has attempted to gain support for the change that would help his son and other children with disabilities by starting an online petition that has collected 7,000-plus signatures.

“I’ve been blown away from the support we’ve gotten across the country,” he said. “If you read the comments on the petition page, it’s really heart-warming.”

Dompierre said his next step is to get support from other schools across the state to vote for a change.

“We’re a proud member of the MHSAA, which makes the right decision 99.9 percent of the time,” he said. “We just think in this particular instance, the MHSAA has misread the amount of support there is to help kids with disabilities.”

His son ecently told WLUC-TV said he just wants to keep playing ball with his teammates.

“I’d be sad if I couldn’t play with them and not have them in my life,” Eric Dompierre told the Upper Peninsula TV station. “They want me to play, and I want to play with them.”


Anonymous said...

Well that is a messy issue. You want to see him play, but in this day and age, some other moron is apt to try and take advantage if they make exceptions.

Anonymous said...

I knew a guy w/ Downs that played for a small college in between Ithaca and Mt. Pleasant. Had a respectable career before moving away and getting into banking or something.

Anonymous said...

I am sure some clown would find a way to take advantage of it and wait to enroll their kid in kindergarten at age 8 and talk some friends into doing the same so they can win the high school championship as 21 year olds then go celebrate at the bar afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's the problem. You can't give an inch or people take a mile.

Dean Dompierre said...

The MHSAA leadership only held discussion among members schools on one of the two suggested options offered by the Ishpeming School District. The option that they chose to discuss was the one that was expected to cause concern. The amount of info that was delivered before and after the meetings to the member schools regarding the FULL proposal was also strictly limited. These are the conditions under which the feedback from the other schools was acquired, and this skewed feedback was the basis of the "open and thoughtful discussion" held by the leadership before rejecting the whole proposal and leaving these disabled kids on the sidelines.

If it was possible to take advantage of the currently-proposed policy (, the 23 states that already allow such waivers would be mired in such problems. That is not the case.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Dean. I'm a soccer referee for MHSAA. I've always respected the organization for their decisions and foresight. I'm astounded that they seem to be botching such a simple and obviously wrong decision. Honestly, I've just always admired them for SO long vs. UIL in Texas that this just reset's my views. I hope that they make the right decision, and let your son play.

Anonymous said...

Was the student allowed to play when he/she was eligible?

some students take longer to get through the system, should that make them eligible to play sports longer also?

Where is the line going to be?
Very hard to say no to the disadvantaged.

VeganPhil said...

This is why I won't let my son play sports (or attend public school, for that matter - he is homeschooled). You have adults telling kids they aren't good enough. Then, if they do play and happen to lose, they are "losers". And all this, for just a game? Not to mention, every family w/ all their kids driving up and down the roads. This is why we are seeing the high gas prices in places like Mt. Pleasant. We are certainly reaping what we have sown...

Anonymous said...

People hating other people over sports...the terrorists have definatly won.