There could not be a wider philosophical gulf between state lawmakers who threaten to shut down the Florida High School Athletic Association and those hoping the association will come out of this fight with some teeth left in its rulebook.
Proponents of House Bill 1279 and Senate Bill 1164 don't see a problem with allowing parents and students to factor esteemed coaches and winning teams into school-choice decisions. Every school administrator I've talked to says a level playing field gets tossed out the day you open that door.
All 14 athletic directors who voted in my informal email poll this week said no to these bills.
But critics of the FHSAA say it is too rigid in upholding old-school rules. That chorus includes parents who say they didn't get a fair shake when their children were deemed ineligible and appealed to a section appeals committees, comprised of administrators from member schools.
"There was obvious non-objectivity in that room," Margot Ambrose said of the 2011 appeal she attended when her daughter was declared ineligible to play volleyball for Winter Park as a sophomore after leaving Lake Highland.
The FHSAA cited the fact that Christina Ambrose had played for an offseason Orlando Volleyball Academy team coached by Winter Park coach Stephanie Gibson.
"Our daughter was going to her zoned high school but was told she is not allowed to play for a year because coach Gibson knows you. That's ridiculous," Ambrose said Tuesday. "There's no evidence of Stephanie recruiting us at all. It would have been a total different outcome, I think, with a regular legal system. Innocent until proven guilty should be the direction they're coming from."
The answer to this contentious debate must provide freedom of choice without wrecking competitive balance. That concept seems lost on politicians, but it resonates on all sports fields. Pro leagues have salary caps and other measures to assure that disadvantaged franchises don't die.
If you don't regulate club connections at the high-school level, the rich get richer (in talent) and the communities and schools that have less get killed.
Rounding for home
Hagerty is 0-for-4 in region softball games, but the Huskies are favored to continue a remarkable season when they host Jacksonville Sandalwood (19-7) in a region quarterfinal Thursday night. The Huskies (26-1), with only one senior and two juniors, are ranked No. 1 in Class 8A by Miracle Sports. They've won 19 in a row since a 4-2 setback at Lake Howell on Feb. 19.
"That loss kept the fire burning," second-year coach Dave Stone said.
The hot streak includes a 6-0 win over Lake Howell on senior night, a treat for Hagerty's one 12th-grader — four-year starter Jacey Castro.
Eight of the 17 boys state event leaders in 4A track are in Thursday's Region 1 meet at Flagler Palm Coast. It's easily the toughest region of four, at least on the male side. . . .
Last week's mention of area girls basketball assist leaders should have included former Lake Howell standout Kelly Kohn, who racked up 1,020 in four seasons (1992-95). That's No. 2 in area history. . . .
Orangewood Christian baseball infielder Forrest Wall, who missed most of his junior season to an arm injury, is hitting .520 with four home runs, 13 doubles, four triples and 27 steals. . . .
Dr. Phillips sophomore Kyle Marman has allowed no earned runs in 21¿ innings pitched.