Should the C-rule be struck down?

No doubt some high school coaches wonder, at times, what might have happened had certain physically talented students been permitted to go out for the team, but couldn’t. You have to maintain a C average in classwork to be eligible for many extracurricular activities.

So, the coaches wish the rule didn’t exist, right?

Wrong. But whether it should be rescinded is being discussed, and that’s a good thing for a reason we’ll get back to in a moment.

One view on the C-rule (actually specified as requiring a 2.0 grade-point average) is that it may be keeping the very students who would benefit most from athletics off high school teams. That’s more of a concern than ever, because of youngsters whose home lives are affected by the drug abuse epidemic.

In many ways, sports does build character. I know and have known quite a few coaches. Most went out of their way to help athletes with personal problems. In their minds, it’s not whether the team wins or loses — but whether individual youngsters do off the field.

So a case can be made for doing what you can to get a troubled student involved in extracurricular activity.

But a coach I know told me that “any coach worth his salt” likes the C-rule. It encourages youngsters who want to play sports to do better in school. It is an incentive for coaches to help them.

Allowing a teenager to join, say, the football team even if he’s failing his classes means the player has little incentive to hit the books.

West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission Executive Director Bernie Dolan told me he’s in favor of the C-rule, too. Dolan, formerly a coach and educator in Ohio County, agrees with what my coach friend said. He had another perspective, too.

“Our kids are student-athletes — students first,” Dolan told me. Potential athletes who otherwise might ignore their grades are much more likely to buckle down because they need to do so to get on the team. “Kids will do a lot extra to be sure they can participate,” he added.

Eliminating the rule could push high school graduation rates down, Dolan suggested. With the requirement, student-athletes are far more likely to get the grades they need to graduate, he explained. Without it, some of the very children who need help the most would stay in school, not passing their classes, until their four years of high school eligibility ended — then they would drop out, Dolan speculated.

Schools have options for students who want to play sports but need to bring their grades up and keep them there, Dolan told me. There is “lots of opportunity” for students, perhaps prodded by coaches, to get help.

Clearly, at least in my opinion, keeping the C-rule makes sense. But who knows? Perhaps there are arguments that could change my mind. That brings us back to why discussing the matter is important.

The drug crisis is ravaging our state. My friend who wanted to talk about doing away with the C-rule mentioned it in that context. He simply wants to ensure that every child who needs help, perhaps from a mentoring coach, gets it.

So, good for him for being willing to discuss anything that might help us overcome drug abuse. We need more interest in finding “out of the box” solutions.

— Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligener.net.

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