Athletic policy gets strict


Photo by Cecilia Bernstein

WCHS Varsity Football team on their homecoming game from Oct. 7 where they beat Whitman 37-3. Each player knew they had to attend school that day or they wouldn’t have been able to play in the highly awaited game.

By Cecilia Bernstein, Photo Manager

As the 2022 fall season comes to a close, the WCHS teams all enjoyed successful seasons. All varsity sports had winning regular season records and every game was packed with adoring fans. Some may wonder, though, whether any of the sports teams were held back by MCPS athletic policies.

MCPS’s athletic policy, which contains numerous rules and regulations, has one policy in particular regarding student attendance that has recently come under focus. The rule, stating that athletes are unable to play in their game on any day they have an unexcused absence, has taken many by surprise.

“I didn’t hear about this rule until a little while ago when there was a day where so much of the school population didn’t attend,” WCHS JV soccer team member and freshman Kylee Kreafle said. “Our team had a game that day, so my teammates and I were among only a few people in our classes because we were not able to miss class and still play that day.”

The newfound strict enforcement of this attendance policy has put a spotlight on this issue, as increased attention from school administration  finds more and more school teams having to check their players’ attendance prior to their game. In a few instances, WCHS athletes have not been allowed to participate in games because of the policy.

“Most coaches are super strict about student-athletes going to school before a game,” Kreafle said. “They know that school comes before athletics and want to make sure we can play in the next game.” 

The controversy of the policy has led to many arguing that even for student-athletes, school must come first. On the other hand, some believe that athletics and education are separable and should not interfere with each other.

“While this rule is damaging to teams, it is common sense,” WCHS Varsity field hockey team member and sophomore Kaia Knouss said. “If you don’t come to school that day, why should you play in the game?”

In the past, there has definitely been a habit of student-athletes putting their education on the back burner and focusing on athletics. But this year, the crackdown has been strict.

 “I mean I understand why the rules are in place, I just don’t necessarily agree with it,” Kreafle said. “My athletic participation does not affect my school performance, so why should my school performance affect whether I can participate in athletics?”

The attendance policy is not the only controversial rule, as the parent-student contract has student-athletes (observing the stricter enforcement of the attendance policy) fearing that the administration may increase enforcement of other policies that have been historically laxer. Per the contract that both parties must sign before the season, students may only participate in one sport per season, athletes must earn at least a 2.0 GPA and they may be removed from the team because of frequent tardiness to classes and practices and unexcused absences.

“My parents and I went through the contract before the season started and nothing really jumped out at me,” Knouss said. “I think all of the rules are pretty simple, and so far I have been able to [follow] them all.”

Despite the athletic policy receiving opposition from numerous athletes, many have come to accept the responsibility that comes with their sport participation.

“Luckily, no one on my team had to sit out a game this season because of the attendance policy,” Kreafle said. “I know that the policy is only here to help us achieve coexistence between both athletics and education, not to prevent us from doing the thing we love.”