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No-Cut Rule For School Teams Below Varsity Makes Sense

One Varsity, One JV Model is Outmoded, Needs Reform

A better game plan

Here are some reasons why a no-cut rule for sports teams below high school varsity makes sense :
  • Implementing a no-cut policy is likely to increase the chances that school teams will enjoy success. Keeping late bloomers in the program long enough for them to actually bloom enlarges the talent pool, so ultimately it helps high schools field the best possible varsity teams, sometimes championship teams. This is especially true given the limited opportunity of coaches or whoever is doing the cutting to truly evaluate the potential of every athlete during tryouts.
  • Cutting a child based on a perceived lack of potential is akin to a teacher deciding to spend her time only teaching the ones with good grades out of a belief that they were the only ones with the potential to go on to college. Teachers don't give up on students with poor grades. Why should we give up on a struggling athlete?
  • A rule against cutting should not be confused with an equal playing time rule. For instance, at many schools, the middle school no-cut policy refers to the opportunity to join a team. It merely guarantees all players who adhere to the coaches' training guidelines a chance to participate in competition. Whether the players become successful is up to them, that is, how hard they are willing to work, and, of course, ultimately, whether they have athletic ability and the necessary motivation to succeed. The most skilled players are still likely to get the bulk of the playing time on middle school and high school varsities, thus ensuring that schools will still be able to field the most competitive teams.
  • The goal of school-based athletics is, or at least should be, educational: to teach the athletes skills they can use as adults. Compromising the educational value of interscholastic athletics in order to emphasize winning has little justification, at least through middle school. Teenagers have a pretty good idea of their own ability, or lack of ability. Those who are lesser skilled will usually recognize their lack of ability, sooner or later, and either self-cut or work extra hard to try to compensate. Since one of the main purposes of education is to teach children to be self-reliant and develop good decision-making skills, it should be up to the athletes themselves to decide if it makes sense to continue participating in a sport in which they come to realize they don't have enough ability or dedication to working harder to get playing time. Why make that decision for them?

Brooke de Lench is the Founder and Publisher of MomsTEAM.com and the author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports (HarperCollins), now available as an e-book on Amazon.com.

1.  Drake KM, Beach ML, Longacre MR, et. al.  Influence of Sports, Physical Education, and Active Commuting to School on Adolescent Weight Status.  Pediatrics 2012; 130(2):1-9 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2898).

2. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA 2010;303(3):242-249.

Most recently revised July 15, 2012