Sports and politics: Republicans plot takeover of the Arkansas Activities Association | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sports and politics: Republicans plot takeover of the Arkansas Activities Association

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 12:14 PM

FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Will the legislature take over regulation?
  • FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Will the legislature take over regulation?

Luke Matheson at Arkansas
calls my attention to several pieces of legislation pertaining to high school athletics. Together, they amount to efforts by powerful Republicans to wrest control of regulation of high school athletics away from current leaders of the Arkansas Activities Association.

* HOME SCHOOLERS: SB 331, now law, allows teams of home-schooled students to play teams sanctioned by the Arkansas Activities Association, a nonprofit operated with member dues, mostly public schools.

* CONCUSSION PRETEXT: SB 958 purports to be concerned about concussion risks in contact sports. It does nothing about concussions. It does, however, prohibit a public school district from joining an organization that, when it comes to football, "distinguishes between public and private schools for the purpose of counting students or classifying schools."

In short, this is an effort to change AAA rule-making. There are seven classes based on enrollment, but private schools are placed one classification above where there enrollment would dictate for a public school. Private schools don't like it. This law would prohibit a public school from joining the AAA, essentially rendering it defunct in my reading of it. Sponsors are several Northwest Arkansas Republicans and also some Republicans from private school-rich West Little Rock, including Arkansas Baptist School System employee David Sanders.

* AAA TAKEOVER: A more frontal move on the AAA is SB 870 by Sen. Jim Hendren to allow public school districts to join a regulatory association that is not governed by a seven-member board appointed the governor (3) and Senate president pro tem and House speaker, (2 each).

* STUDY A TAKEOVER: For good measure, Sen. Jon Woods has filed a proposal for interim study of the AAA. It broaches state regulation of athletics, perhaps in the Education Department. His proposal says in part:

WHEREAS, recent decisions by the AAA call into question its ability to regulate interscholastic activities in a fair and well-reasoned manner that includes thoroughly investigating alleged violations of AAA rules, consistently adhering to the provisions of its constitution and bylaws, and respecting the accomplishments and achievements of student-athletes;

The AAA causes unhappiness on a regular basis. Recently, and I don't know if this is what Woods means, it has been involved in a controversy over the North Little Rock football coach. The AAA accepted self-reported purported violations by the school district and forfeiture penalties the district proposed.

Once again, Republicans play the do as I say not as I do rule. They hate regulation. Except when they want to do it themselves.

If takeover be inevitable, Woods would seem to have the better idea, to do a little study on it first, rather than slip through quick takeover bills, particularly one done under the empty pretext of concussion concern. 

I don't know if it is inevitable. The AAA is currently governed by a board composed of school superintendents. They can be effective lobbyists at the legislature.

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