Opinion: Social Probation Should Have Additional Requirements

by Nicole Clancy
BHS News

Academics, athletics, stress, and peer pressure are some of the defining aspects of a high school students’ life. Member schools of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) enforce the chemical health policy in order to educate their athletes to abstain from alcohol and substance use. Students that violate the policy have to face the consequences. The chemical health policy should be strictly enforced so that each athlete learns consequences exist for their actions and to minimize the effect on the team. These rules however are in need of revision to address major ambiguities.

The MIAA states that if a teammate is on probation they are “recommended…[to] be allowed to remain at practice for the purpose of rehabilitation.” The athlete should be required to be present to support the team and not be rewarded days off until their probation is over. Reasons the offender should be allowed to miss a practice should be valid, including medical appointments and after school academic support.

There should be requirements that every offender must fulfill in order to continue playing for their team. The MIAA states the athlete “shall lose eligibility” to play in a certain percentage of the contests in that sport. It should require the athlete to arrive to the game, on time, dressed, and ready to help the coach and their team. It is unfair when the team arrives to an event on time and ready to play, while their teammate who is on social probation arrives late, not dressed, setting a tone of disinterest.

Finally, there is a question of the consequences if the student is in violation of the policy during their off-season. According to the MIAA, a spring athlete may participate in a winter sport and fulfill their penalty before their spring season. This rule lends to penalizing the team. Other athletes may not play for the team due to cuts and during the athlete’s probation, the team may be subjected to play with less substitutes.

As a result of the ambiguities of the MIAA chemical health policy including the recommended attendance to practice, the lack of requirements for the athlete to support the team, and the ability for a player to play any season to serve their punishment, the culture of the team is affected. These existing ambiguities can be a detriment to the team. The MIAA created the policy acknowledging the effect of substance abuse on the individual and the team but because of the ambiguity in the rules, the team truly suffers from the consequences.