Sports: Impact Of CIF Rule Change Varies Among Bosco Sports

by Timothy Levine, Executive Editor, and Isaiah Holm

With the 2019-2020 school year in full swing, there comes a new set of athletic seasons for St. John Bosco, but this year there will be one big change that comes from the California Interscholastic Federation, CIF. 

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In a unanimous vote, the CIF Federated Council approved a new rule that starting this year will ban California teams from playing high schools around the country that don’t compete in their state championship playoffs. This rule will have a huge impact on certain sports at St. John Bosco and affect California athletics as a whole.

CIF has some clear reasoning behind this rule, which includes their belief in the balance of academics and athletics. These schools are allowed to recruit and promote their athletics in ways that schools under CIF are simply unable to. Monty McDermott, the Director of Athletics at St. John Bosco, believes that these academies can sometimes barely be recognized as academic institutions.

“They do not have any transfer rules, academics are not their first priority, they are boarding schools. It is probably not a good idea to play those types of schools if you can even call them high schools,” said Mr. McDermott.

CIF believes that these schools go against their “mission as an organization” and are inherently detrimental for athletics in schools, according to the Los Angeles Times. While this rule seems to allow for a fairer playing field, it also eliminates certain matchups that garnered much attention, such as the Mater Dei vs. IMG Academy game from last year’s football season. However, matchups against teams like IMG Academy may not be positive for schools like St. John Bosco. McDermott believes that this allows IMG to recruit and take players from their program.

“There has actually been a case where they have tried to take a few of our kids, and there are no rules against it. They can call our kids on the phone, they can come to their living room, they can say, ‘hey come out to IMG; we will give you whatever whatever whatever.’ So when you play them, you give them a free recruiting trip to recruit your players,” said Mr. McDermott.

Outside of these big matchups, it affects many sports at St. John Bosco and their respective schedules. One sport that is impacted by this rule is basketball. Basketball is a prominent sport at St. John Bosco, and the team has participated against prep schools in the past. Basketball is one of the largest sports in California as well, and head coach Matt Dunn believes that the rule will affect California basketball as a whole through certain scheduling conflicts.

“I think the biggest change is tournaments we can participate in, because we can not participate in any tournaments that [prep schools] are playing in, so I think some of the bigger events it makes it harder to play in,” said Coach Dunn.

However, Coach Dunn believes that showcases will play a bigger role in basketball going forward, due to its selection of specific games.

“In a showcase, it’s not as big of a deal because we can play in the same showcase they are in, just not against them,” said Coach Dunn.

When asked about how it would affect Bosco basketball directly, Coach Dunn is unconcerned, as he believes it will bring no significant changes for them.

“I don’t think so, not really. I mean, I’m sure it does in some ways that there are schools that aren’t going to come to events that we play in that they normally would, but otherwise it doesn’t affect us,” said Coach Dunn.

While it may not have an impact on Bosco basketball’s schedule, Coach Dunn is mixed on his overall opinions of the rule, as he has experienced losing a player to one of these prep schools and believes their recruiting abilities make it unfair for CIF schools.

“I do like the rule, but obviously we also enjoy competing against the very best so losing that chance it’s not a great thing, but overall I’m not a big fan of playing against guys that are trying to take your players,” said Coach Dunn.

Another sport that is impacted by this rule is wrestling, another winter sport and a successful one for St. John Bosco. However, head coach Jeff Anderson believes that it will not have a huge impact on wrestling as a whole in California, but just for those teams at the top that try to compete against these elite prep schools.

“As a whole, most teams in California are not going to be directly affected by the change.  The rule is a problem though for teams that want to compete against some of the best teams in the nation,” said Coach Anderson.

Bosco wrestling strives to be a top team in the state of California and for the past eight years has competed at the Ironman Invitational, arguably the most competitive in-season tournament in the country. However, with the rule change, Bosco will no longer be able to attend this prestigious event.

“It has a negative effect on our schedule. We are one of those programs that want to compete at the highest level. Because of the rule, we are no longer able to compete at the Walsh Ironman, arguably the best tournament in the nation,” said Coach Anderson.

When asked about his overall thoughts on the rule, Coach Anderson understands CIF’s motives behind the rule and their good intentions. However, he believes that the rule should be amended for wrestling as many schools are still following national and state guidelines, but simply choose not to compete in the state tournament.

“It indiscriminately targets schools that are not a member of their respective state organization by choice, but are still sanctioned and accredited by their state’s governing bodies. A lot of prep schools fall into this category. They are sanctioned and abide by all the National Federation of rules for wrestling, but CIF is presenting it as they can do whatever they want,” said Coach Anderson.

While CIF may have had good intentions with this rule, the reality is not as black and white, as different sports are affected differently by this rule and some are hurt more than others.

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