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High School Sports Blog

The latest news and analysis on high-school sports around the Seattle area

February 4, 2008 at 11:18 AM

Athletic suspensions — what’s fair?

It happens every year, if not every season: High-school athletes are deemed guilty of violating their school’s athletic code or participation agreement.

A couple of weeks ago, a trio of players from the Mount Rainier boys basketball team were suspended for four weeks for that reason, the standard punishment in the Highline School District (four weeks or four events, whichever is longer). The players appealed their suspensions before a panel last Wednesday and it paid off. The suspensions were cut to two weeks and the three are eligible to return to the team this Wednesday with the opportunity to play on Friday.

There is no standard policy across the state for athletic-code violations. Would you like to see one? What’s fair? Years ago, some school districts had what was known as the “death penalty,” meaning it only took one violation for an athlete to be dismissed from the team for the entire season. I’m not sure if anything that drastic exits anywhere these days. Should it?

Many districts vary the penalty based on the violation and whether the athlete was a first-time offender or not. Let’s say there was a party where alcohol was present. Generally, if the athlete leaves immediately, there is no sanction. If the athlete stays, he or she might receive a small sanction, like 5-10 days. If he or she drinks alcohol, it’s a longer suspension. It often is longer still if it’s a second offense, and any further offense generally means permanent suspension.

In some districts, though, athletes are treated the same whether they consumed alcohol at the party or not. Just being in the crowd for any length of time is considered an equal violation.

What are your thoughts? Let’s hear some debate on the subject.

Tonight’s top games

1. Issaquah at Bellevue, girls basketball, 7:30 p.m. The fourth-ranked Eagles (17-1, 13-1) have had this once circled on the calendar since losing 53-36 to Bellevue (15-3, 13-1), now ranked No. 7, back on Jan. 4. Both teams ride eight-game win streaks.

2. Snohomish at Lake Stevens, girls basketball, 7:30 p.m. Can the second-ranked Vikings (18-0, 14-0) keep that unbeaten streak going? Snohomish (14-2, 12-2) looks for the upset.

3. Garfield at Redmond, boys basketball, 7:30 p.m. Redmond (10-7, 6-6) ended a three-game losing streak with a key win over Bothell last Friday. Garfield (13-5, 8-3) is 6-0 since a two-point loss to Bothell earlier this month.

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