Lowcountry State Representative Jimmy Merrill apparently wants taxpayers to pay the entire bill for high school sports. Merrill, the former GOP Leader in the SC House, proposed a bill to eliminate the South Carolina High School League and put such things under the Department of Education.
Some contend that Merrill is angry that a high school in his district suffered sanctions from the SCHSL and that is why he wants to eliminate the SCHSL. Frankly, there are not enough confirmed facts out there to substantiate that allegation, so VUI will look at things as they are.
First, the South Carolina High School League has governed South Carolina high school and middle school sports for years. It is a non profit organization that actually gets some of its money from corporate sponsors and ticket sales in addition to member schools dues. Its rules for games like football and basketball are a textbook for competition at the youth sports level as well.
Further, as someone who has coached at the youth sports level, I can attest to the fact that SCHSL has great respect among coaches and those who put together youth leagues and competition. The officials who get its accreditation are well respected. That is because it is a league ran by members and that shows in its even handed rulings. It is free from partisan politics.
What Merrill offers is introducing high school and middle school sports to good ole boy politics. You can bet that if the Department of Education takes over such things, that good ole boys will work hard to make sure that their favorite teams get preferential treatment. The track record is what it is, no matter what the politicians say. And, of course, we the taxpayers will pay the full bill for having them intrude on a part of life they otherwise cannot intrude upon.
That is why VUI says no to Merrill's bill and encourages members of the General Assembly to say no to it. High School Friday nights are sacred events in South Carolina. They are nights when folks of all political persuasions can come together to cheer on their teams. The SCHSL is not Republican or Democrat. It is made up of member schools and officials who love the games. As such, it gives us something that is not controlled by the good ole boys or those who claim not to be good ole boys. It is our break from that stuff. Let us keep it. Let's keep politics out of high school, middle school and youth sports.