LET THE KIDS PLAY

The sport of Football is under the spot light once again in New Brunswick, and the local media reporters, many of which have little understanding about the sport, are going to be writing stories on the topic of Player Eligibility, and how some High Schools bend those rules to their advantage.

On Friday evening, the FDS Inbox started filling up with messages about two related topics. The two players from Moncton High that were not allowed to play football in NB due to the Eligibility rules, and how Tantramar has been fielding an illegal player on their roster, which would be resulting in all four of their wins being reversed, as well as the suspension of head coach Scott O’Neal.

So as of right now there are 3 kids attending school in the province of New Brunswick that want to play High School Football, and the NBIAA are telling them they can’t… WHAT??? Did I write that previous sentence correctly? Would we stop a kid from playing a sport? I mean, this is High School! This is not Professional football, or even university level. Last time I checked there were no pay cheques going out to High School players.

We’ve reached out to the NBIAA and have invited them on to our Local Sports Podcast to discuss. We will keep you updated should they accept our invite or provide comment. For now, this is what we know from the NBIAA handbook:

https://www.nbiaa-asinb.org/2019-2020%20Uploads/Handbook/EN%202019/Section4EN2019.pdf

nbiaa cover

ARTICLE 2 – PLAYER ELIGIBILITY

Section 1.
A player must be a student enrolled in a public or private high school in New Brunswick, which has become a member of the NBIAA and must be in regular attendance during the school year in which they wish to compete as certified by the school Principal.

Section 2.
A player is eligible:
a) for five (5) years from entering into Grade 9.
b) unless declared ineligible or suspended by their Principal.
c) until they have graduated and/or received a high school diploma or its equivalent, (or the end of the school year in which the person attains the age of 21—Education Act).

Section 3.
A student must carry a full complement of regular/credit courses during the four years of eligibility (Grades 9-12). Students in their 2nd semester of grade 12, with enough credits to graduate, are permitted to participate in interscholastic activities with a part time schedule. A fifth-year student is required to enrol in the courses needed to fulfill graduation requirements.

Section 4.
Transfer student eligibility:

A NBIAA student transfer policy has been in existence since 1980, with the intent to promote fairness in athletic competition. This policy is meant to restrict students transferring schools for athletic purposes and to prevent recruiting. Students attend school first and foremost for an education and they have the privilege to complement their education by taking part in interscholastic activities offered at that school. There is always the concern that the athletic motivated transfer simply puts athletics above academics, which is inappropriate in educational athletics.

A students five years of eligibility begins upon entering grade 9. The school at which a student is registered and attending their 1st day in Grade 10 shall be the school in which they are eligible to participate in NBIAA Championship activities for the remaining years of eligibility. Once a student transfers after establishing their school of eligibility, they are considered ineligible until approved by the NBIAA. Before a decision is rendered, the online NBIAA Transfer Form must be fully completed and submitted along with supporting documents as required. Always check with the school principal and/or the NBIAA before a student transfers, to determine whether it will affect their eligibility. Disciplinary actions will follow the student-athlete to all schools.

I. A student is eligible to participate for a NBIAA member school if they meet one of the following conditions (with the exception of any sport they participated in at their previous school in the current school year):

i) Family move: the student has moved with the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) who has changed residence and resides within the catchment area of the school at which the student has registered. The student and their immediate family must completely and permanently move from the former residence. Documents may be requested to confirm the new residence and that they have permanently moved from the former residence.
ii) Parent to parent move (separated / divorced and permanently living apart): the student moves to reside with a parent/legal guardian within the catchment area of the school at which the student has registered. Written confirmation will be requested from the Principal of the previous school in order to determine sport eligibility. Only two such transfers are allowed in a student’s years of eligibility.

 iii) Short term Transfer & Return to Home: the student is transferring from one school to another school for the purpose of playing a non-NBIAA sport activity and did not participate in any NBIAA activities while attending that school. That student will not be eligible for the sport activity in which they transferred during that school year.*
*Exception for hockey – If a player is registered in any Hockey Canada/USA Seniors, Juniors, Major Midget AAA on December 1st or later, he is ineligible for NBIAA hockey for the remainder of the season.
iv) Independent / Private Schools: the student is transferring to a NBIAA member school and did not participate in any NBIAA activities at the previous school. Or, the student is transferring back to their previous catchment area school and residing with their parent(s)/ legal guardian(s).
v) District waiting list students (Saint John city schools): A district waitlist student had transferred by September 30th. The onus is on the parents to provide supporting documents from the District or School that the transfer has been requested at least 3 weeks prior to the fall sports season. The waitlist student may participate in NBIAA activities prior to transferring, but there is no guarantee that they will make a team at the new school. If a waiting list transfer occurs after September 30th, the student will be ineligible until the next season of play.

II. If the above conditions in Part I cannot be met, the transfer student is ineligible (for a period of up to 12 months). Transfers that do not meet the eligibility criteria may be reviewed by the NBIAA Transfer Committee, if supported by both the sending and receiving schools (Principals).

MHS

After reading Article 2 from the handbook there are several questions that come to mind with these three players:

  1. Did the schools file the proper paper work prior to the season?
  2. Did the parents speak with the school principal before moving these kids to these schools?
  3. 12 month waiting period… really?

New Brunswick High School Football is a great recruiting ground for kids that want to have a shot at the next level, and you can find plenty of NB student athletes playing at the USports level across Canada. For students wanting to play at the next level, a waiting period of 12 months is a little excessive no? Doesn’t this seem like a long wait for a kid that only has 5 years of eligibility in High School Sports? Also, in most team sports (especially Football) does one player really make that big of a difference? An argument could only be made for Quarterbacks, but we know the rosters of both the Moncton Purple Knights and Tantramar Titans quite well, and none of the kids in question play Quarterback to our knowledge.

Why Week 5?

We find it very interesting that this news broke in Week 5 of the Football season, when the Titans are 4-0 and well on their way to their 5th straight Provincial title. There is no question the Tantramar Titans are the New England Patriots of High School football in New Brunswick. They have the smallest student population of all schools playing division 1 – 12 Man, and yet the Coaching Staff continues to elevate the level these kids play at.

titans footballWhen it comes to Football, Coaching is what makes the difference. There is a lot to coaching… game planning, instruction, motivation, scouting younger players, etc… and Scott O’Neal has set the standard in New Brunswick. When a winning program achieves that level of success, it can be under fire from all the other coaches, players, and parents that want a piece of this winning feeling.

Football in 2019 is much different than in the past, as there are now three divisions of play versus two. Some will tell you the Titans are responsible for this, as some schools and parents didn’t want to their kids playing against the Titans because they were too rough. Some even used the word “dirty”. When in fact, it really comes down to the Titans being better coached.

Our research tells us we are dealing with a kid that has gone through some tough circumstances. The parents divorced. He lived in Truro, NS in 2018, and played football. After moving back to Amherst, whose school does not have a football team, he enrolled at Tantramar High and joined the Titans, as his siblings are also attending Sackville, NB schools. This is not uncommon, as there are several kids living in the Amherst area that attend school in Sackville. BUT, because this kid played football in Truro, Nova Scotia, he falls under the 12-month waiting period.

This brings me back to my WHAT??? What exactly are we doing here folks? Who is making these decisions and telling a kid they can’t play a sport, especially if the town the kid lives in currently doesn’t have a team playing the sport in question? We need to make it easier for kids to play the sports they love, not more difficult.

What about kids that attend Salisbury High School? Should one of those kids want to play, could another high school not allow them to play for their team?

What about Oromocto High School with all the Military families moving in and out of town? Should they have a kid that comes from another area of Canada that played for a previous high school, do we really need to have them sit out 12 months?

Here is another example… If I am a kid with big time aspirations to play at the next level, and I play for Harrison Tremble or Bernice MacNaughton High School… Would it not be better for me to play against the best High School in the province for University recruiters to see? But that is probably is another story.

These are Kids                                                                                            

Our whole point for this article is to remind everyone we are talking about kids between the ages of 14-18. They are rarely responsible for their living circumstances in their High School years, we need to set these kids up for success as they are preparing for their adult years.

As Adults, what the heck are we teaching these kids??? You can’t play for 12 months because you’re a kid that played for another High School… Blah Blah Blah

Let the Kids play!!!
#506Football

15 comments

  1. Why are there rules if they are not going to be followed??? NB High School league has been totally changed because of these teams fighting. There has been so many situations the last few years that have had teams leave this division. Every time an adult is behind the problems not the kids who just want to be apart of something special at their High School. This past weekend was Homecoming for all schools! Down the street from this game you all want to talk about was another High School game that was amazing. Amazing school spirit and amazing football. No one talked about that! Nothing written in our local paper about how these two schools collected food for our local food bank. If you would like a replay in 2 weeks Playoffs will start And I recommend you go to check out a high spirted, well played football game. With Coaches and parents cheering on every player.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fran, I would have love to have been at that game. I was officiating the AUS game on Friday night at Acadia, although my wife was at the game along with my daughter who attends at BMHS and we will be discussing the game on our Local Sports program. We at FDS do everything we can to promote local sports here in Moncton and across the province. Of course Times is not going to cover HS sports they are going to stick with the Wildcats as they are trying to promote their own product.

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  2. Why leave it up to the adults to make these decisions that backfire these kids? In each high school member there are a lot of students (sometimes over 1,000) and the leader is the student council president who he/she is in charge of the school itself. They should have each student council president and/or designate of every member in the NBIAA attend executive meetings and the AGM (annual general meeting) in June to give a vote on these decisions. Students should deserve a vote, and allow the meeting to have public comment including the ones affected by the transfer policy with the hopes it will be changed and/or revised for next year and beyond. Perhaps the AGM can be moved to after school where public comment can be allowed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent article.

    But i have to ask the same question myself, why now? Why wait until the season is half over to bring this up. Why wasn’t this addressed after the first game, or better yet when the Titans submitted their roster for the year? When did the rule really change? It wasn’t that long ago that certain teams from Moncton were allowed to “recruit” players from other schools out of the so called “catchment area”, yet nothing was said to them and they became power houses of the league for years. So now all of a sudden the rule gets changed because a school of about 500 kids becomes the power house of the league, really? So again, when and why was this rule really changed and how was it really distributed to the teams, because obviously, there were two teams who were not aware of said changes during the start of this season.

    The mission of the NBIAA is to create, promote and facilitate positive sporting experiences in an educational environment. It is no secret that the NBIAA dropped the ball two years ago when the Tantramar Titans were being accused of “deliberately trying to injure players and after a very lengthy investigation, all allegations were found to be false or unfounded, and then everything was swept under the carpet.

    Well, because of this so called rule change, they dropped the ball once again. Your point on “these are just kids” is bang on. They’re JUST KIDS, wanting to play sports for what ever reason; to be healthier, smarter, to be a team player, make friends, learn commitment, perhaps some may even want to go to the next level and play university sports, but for what ever reason, they’re just kids!!!

    Sports is one of the best ambassadors out there, LET THE KIDS PLAY!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have read all of this and can’t believe a kid transferring to a new school has to be sit 12 months to play football for the new school. Who is making up these rules. Better start thinking about the KIDS, after all it is because of them you have teams. Start helping them not hindering them! I do believe this kind of stuff is going on in other areas of Canada and it has to stop. Time to straighten the rule book out and bring it into this century. Let the Kids Play!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great write up!

    The spirit of the rule is obviously to eliminate the possibility of recruitment…but in reality, it takes away more chances than it protects.

    Guess what? The Titans are still the favorite to win it all and removing 1 athlete will not change those chances whatsoever.
    The Purple Knights and the 2 PEI kids…would they have put them over the top? Heck no (though I honestly thought The Knights had a good shot this year).

    The rule protects the NBIAA from adults and parents in charge or involved with runner-up programs who know how to cause a scene and look for any loophole to be THE REASON, rather than just accepting that sometimes their best just wasn’t enough.

    Let the kids play… recruitment of players is not a huge problem anymore with the progression of our Football New Brunswick programs…plenty of chances for kids who’ve got IT to showcase their talents.

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  6. So i have to speak up here. I am the father of Aidan Godfrey the player that has been deemed ineligible to play at TRHS. I am 100 % for rules and regulations at all level of play for the sake of legal, liabilities and due diligence for all involved. However at high school level when it comes rules for eligibility to play there has to be more accelptance for people who have to move for reasons beyond their control ie., split families, rcmp parents, army families. Our kids should not be punished for something they have no control over. Im thankful i have a very respectful, positive, good hearted, caring son which i can attribute to good parenting but also to the coaches and teammates that have helped mould him into the fine young man he is today. He is active and not hiding in the basement on videogames 24/7 and thats how i want my children……ACTIVE. My son hasnt broken any rules. Stop this madness and just #letthekidsplay

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have been following all this and have yet to see any logic to it. These kids are playing or at least they want to play a part in a sport, yet certain rules, with no real thought behind them in respect of the impact they have on the kids are being put in place. So, let me understand this, they would rather have these kids hang around town, maybe take up drinking, smoking, all the thing that happen when kids have excessive time on their hands and lack of guidance that sports gives them. I spent over 30 yrs couching kids and their families, to watch them grow be healthy productive members of their communities. I am not a football coach, but have watched for years as these folks worked to help develop great kids and family unity. The results of not doing this can be seen in a different group, Jails and penitentiaries are full of people that did not,

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am going to jump in here and try to clear a couple of things up that there are questions about. I am the mother of one of the PEI players that was deemed ineligible by the NBIAA to play sports at school for 12 months. We have been fighting this battle since the beginning of the season so this is not just coming up now. We have been trying to talk to the NBIAA since this was ruled against our boys 24 hours prior to the first game. We sat on the sidelines and supported out boys through this whole situation and the heartbreak that we all felt when we found out that they were not able to play. We have been trying not to ruffle feathers through this whole situation but the NBIAA has been ignoring all contact with us as well as a lawyer we had involved. We have been trying to play fair and follow the rules and even with the ruling against the boys they made the decision to stick it out at the school for the year in order to play next year as this is their only opportunity to go further with their football which is their passion. We have not been setting out to get anybody benched or coaches suspended or anything negative against anybody. We just want our boys to play and are trying to understand why some can and our boys can’t. We want everybody to have the chance to do what they love. With the NBIAA not returning phone calls or any type of contact we reached out to the media to bring this issue to light about how unfair it is. Again, it is kids we are talking about and we are very proud of our boys for the maturity and character they have shown during this whole situation. I do not relish in the fact that other people are now having to go through what we have been going through but believe me when I say that we did everything we were supposed to do in the time frame we were supposed to do it in and had registered our boys in the Spring for school. This blindsided us when we got this ruling right before the first game. Moncton High School has been very supportive of our boys and we are very thankful for them being so welcoming and there to support them through this.

    Maybe the NBIAA needs to step up and make this right and let them all on the field! The season is not over and can still be salvaged but good luck getting any kind of response from them!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If there is anything I hope you should contact your local MLA representatives, and have them have a say on the matter. I’ve seen instances where certain MLAs do care about sports, so I hope they will care about this issue in the legislature (even for question period) and send a strong message to the NBIAA to do their jobs to let these students play sports.

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  9. As grandparents of one of the PEI boys we ate proud of his dedication and commitment to this sport. He has played many sports but the passion for football has won. Does NBIAA think that leaving parents, grandparents and friends at this stage of their schooling is EASY? Do you not think that if high school football and the chance for University scholarship were available in their home province that that is where they would have stayed. They have made us proud with their ethics in the sport showing great teamwork and sportsmanship. What about hockey players who leave a province to enroll in Quebec school to further their opportunities and a chance at the NHL. There are other things that provinces cannot offer ie medical treatment and if that is the case they have to go to the province that can provide the necessary procedure. All these kids want us to follow their dream by playing the sport they love and hope to pursue into University and possibly beyond.

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  10. I applaud this article and the comments it has received. This latest NBIAA move has me furious. Rules are rules and I can live with that (even if as others have pointed out they may not be as sensible as intended). As a Tantramar alumni who follows local sports religiously despite being 26 years removed myself, this governing body is really getting to me.

    As stated, Tantramar is a school of just over 400 students playing against much bigger schools and winning. They do so because of training and hard work. Unlike most schools, these kids train year round with special plans depending on position. They integrated their system from basically elementary to high school to train them the same way, all the way. Their results should be celebrated and held up as an example.

    2 years ago they were drug through the mud nationally and even threatened online by “adults”.

    Last year the NBIAA saw fit to deny them a championship banner after an undefeated record, one which was the second best defensive showing in the entire history of the province.

    Now this year the NBIAA pulls this.

    These are kids playing a sport and in some cases trying to get to university level.

    Now if they violated a rule, well rules have consequences. That said, it begs several questions and if you can ever get them to commit to answering for their actions (which in reality might fully clear the air). I would appreciate if you could get some of them answered.

    Firstly, when were these rules communicated to every team (exact date) and how (just an issuance of a booklet or a highlighting of changes)? From the newspaper article it sounds like several parties were unaware. From another article, the Executive Director told Moncton High back in May that the rule was changing. Did they tell anyone else? Now from comments above I see the family involved saying they weren’t informed until 24 hours prior.

    The NBIAA rules state that “A copy of a school’s team roster is to be sent to NBHSFL no later than 24 hours prior to the first regular season game.” THE first regular season game was Sept 6. THEIR first game was Sept 14. Using the rule, which says THE not THEIR, THE first regular season game was Sept 6, so rosters had to be sent in by 7 PM Sept 5. Did the rules come out after that? Additionally, if they had the rosters September 5th, when were they notified they were in violation? Why did it take until after 4 games? Did someone flag it as illegal and if so, whom?

    Further, one of the articles mentioned they were denied an appeal. Were they denied an appeal or was their appeal overturned? The bylaws clearly lay out how appeals are supposed to work. Did the NBIAA follow its own bylaws and will they provide specifics as to what the grounds were and who exactly was involved in said decisions (since their bylaws clearly state who is supposed to be involved)?

    A little transparency would go a long ways to clearing up several issues which seem to be getting stinkier every year. Unless of course transparency leads to people not coming out so well on the other side?

    I echo the sentiments of everyone here: Let the kids play (and keep “adults” out of it). Games are to be played on the field, not behind a desk in a board room.

    Oh and to the boys affected by all of this, please know we are with you and wish you the best.

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  11. Rules are rules.

    Each staff has the responsibility of knowing whether or not each and every kid on the roster is eligible.

    I’ve no doubt that this unfair rule will be changed after the school year has ended but until then it’s to be followed.

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  12. Well, I am hopeful that the parents/grandparents of the schools affected by the transfer ruling will continue to rally and/or start an online petition in the hopes of bringing it up for vote at the executive meetings and/or AGM and getting the rule changed next season in June to make the transfer rules and the clauses consistent. I did a petition of my own last year when I fought to save homecoming and it just didn’t work out.

    Liked by 1 person

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