By Eric Seedman
Special to the Weekly
Eric Seedman is an assistant coach with the Palo Alto girls' soccer team, which saw its season end this week after one player was ruled ineligible for participating in a national team training camp in Southern California. He met with Palo Alto Principal Phil Winston on Friday and learned that 30 female players statewide have been similarly sanctioned in the past few days. Here are some of Seedman's thoughts on the situation.
Regarding high school girls' soccer sanctions:
It is my understanding that either two or three players from CCS have violated rule 600 of the CIF bylaws by particpating in non-sanctioned events, then returning to their team to play in soccer matches. Rule 600 basically states that once the team's games have commenced that a player cannot particpate in outside competition and then return to play in matches during that season.
There are certain exceptions for sanctioned events. The coaches at Palo Alto High are quite familiar with rule 600, and even quoted to parents at the preseason meeting. They had had experience with players attending national camps in the past, and that experience led them to believe that such camps were, by their nature, sanctioned events. In this case, the camp would almost certainly have also been sanctioned, had it not been for some late paperwork filed by US Soccer.
Beyond the two or three CCS players who have been sanctioned, there are many others (maybe in double figures) in California who are experiencing similar punishments. This affects literally hundreds of players (teammates, opponents, season-ending tournaments). From what I've read, it seems that most or all California participants in the national camps were sanctioned (altough I do not have exact figures on that). If so few knew of the possible sanctions, something is wrong here.
The CIF and CCS have stated that their aim is to protect the student-athletes. What I see is the exact opposite. There are hundreds of student-athletes who have been greatly harmed. For what? The national team activities were not by their nature forbidden, just by technicalities instituted by CIF itself. In this case the "cure" is much worse than the "disease" ever could have been.
So what is the solution?
US Soccer has come out publicly that only two states (California and Michigan) require them to file paperwork, and that their federation is charged with fielding the best team they can -- the implication being that the paperwork is viewed as a low priority for them.
Imagine if all 50 states had separate filing requirements -- what a nightmare that would be for US Soccer. My question is this -- what is the need for the filing in the first place? Isn't it enough that it is the US Soccer Federation's National Team Camp? What are they attempting to protect the student-athletes from? Wouldn't it be reasonable to just give blanket permission to have our best players be free to play in such situations?
I propose for the future that participation in any national team camp/game in and of itself should exempt California players from rule 600.