The recent ruling by the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) prohibits every athlete in every sport at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy (TBLA) in Gary, Indiana from competing in state tournaments for the next two years. It also states that no junior or senior athlete can transfer because it would be for “athletic reasons.” These punishments are harsh and have left many heartbroken as if attempts are being made to crush our dreams.
As an alternate on the IHSAA Student Advisory Committee and a student who is deeply impacted by these rulings, I felt it was my responsibility to speak up. I am a student athlete who plays both basketball and baseball. I also serve as Junior Class President and currently have a 4.0 grade point average. I believe in IHSAA rules and regulations but, I do have questions regarding the following:
1) The timing in which the penalty was announced
2) The method that was used to deliver the message
3) Why the penalties given affected every athlete in every sport in the school
Not only was the gut-wrenching news delivered days before the Girls Sectional Drawing, but ironically on Friday the 13th and days before the nation would commemorate the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Many of the athletes in other sports wondered how a boys’ basketball issue could affect their chances to compete. If this was just a boys’ basketball issue, why did every sport get penalized?
The news was sent out via You-Tube video. As a student, given the severity of the news, I would have preferred to have heard it directly from our administrators or received a letter. Many athletes began to fill the hallways crying after viewing the announcement because it was devastating and very impersonal!
As a student, I do not understand how the actions of individuals, who no longer work at our school, can harm every athlete at TBLA. I was always taught to do my part by going to school every day, attending practice, maintaining the grade requirements and respecting those who were in charge. In return, it was expected that those in leadership would follow the rules and meet the expectations of the
IHSAA. I absolutely knew nothing of any wrongdoings, yet I am impacted drastically. As it seems, only the kids are affected. The adults can move on and get other jobs wherever they please, while the students are left to suffer the consequences. This is clearly unfair.
On Friday, January 13, 2017, I was shocked about the news, and I was also heartbroken not only for me, but for my fellow classmates. To all the seniors who were counting on the IHSAA tournaments to get them accepted to college and scholarship opportunities, their dreams are now deferred. What are they supposed to do? What am I supposed to do since I cannot transfer to another school?
We are relying on the adults in positions of authority to work on correcting any infractions that occurred in the past to ensure that they never happen again. In the meantime, I do not believe that every sport should suffer or that we should have to wait two years before returning to IHSAA tournament play. I am respectfully asking IHSAA officials to reconsider it’s ruling for sports at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy and to recognize the innocent futures they are potentially ruining.