The sound Arizona high school sports made on Friday was a hurricane-force whiff.
This disaster came through (in-)actions rather than words, but is unmistakable in how it shook this landscape for the near future.
Of the 39 voting of the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Legislative Council, 13 took arguably the best rule proposal put forth in the past decade, put on their tunnel-vision headware and promptly buried their heads and credibility in the sand.
Somehow, the 25-mile transfer rule proposal failed to garner a vote. Then, amazingly, after a 31-8 decision in favor of voting on a 50-mile transfer rule (instead of 25), the 50-mile proposal failed to reach the needed two-thirds approval (26 of 39 council members who were present) by one vote.
A majority agreement to change the legislation from 25 to 50 miles, then having the proposal fail, reeks. So, too, does this startling reversal of rhetoric, a blown chance to bite down on the biggest high school sports issue in the state. We were seemingly on our way to worthy regulation and progress, a chance to make high school sports more about neighborhoods and less about free agency, while offering a chance for those who legitimately find themselves and families inside a shade of grey.
Maybe next fall. Or next year. Or two years. Or never.
We know the Legislative Council is comprised of 45 administrators and athletic directors from all conferences around the state, plus a few school board members from around the state, and that 39 of those 45 were present. We don’t know who were the 14 against the transfer proposal (11 voted “no” and three abstained), except to note that those in charge at the AIA — including Executive Director Harold Slemmer and Associate Executive Director Chuck Schmidt — do not vote.
We know two of the major sticking points were about the amount of work (mostly paperwork) athletic directors feared dealing with between families transferring in/out or appeals, and the specific radius of miles.
Talk about a baffling waste of energy on semantics. Why does 25 miles, 50 miles, 18 miles or 126.58 miles matter? Pick a number — make it 25 miles for the Valley and Tucson and 100 miles everywhere else if you want — or don’t even have a number. If it’s not enough or too much for Arizona’s schools and conferences, the LC can propose and vote on a ratification in 2014 or 2015.
If, based on constituents, two-thirds of the LC believe the amount of extra paperwork — another debatable subject — is somehow deemed not worthy of this crackdown on transfers, then more ratifications or even abolishment of the rule is available every year.
But to not try something this significant based on fixable hypotheticals reeks even worse.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.