By Jimmy Hyams
Ryan Hagenow is a fantastic pitcher for Farragut High School.
He’s so good, he was invited to participate in the Perfect Game All-Star game in San Diego on Aug. 11.
What a great experience for the rising senior.
One problem: TSSAA rules don’t allow Hagenow to play in the prestigious contest.
Another problem: The rule is antiquated.
Hagenow can’t play because Farragut begins school Aug. 5. The All-Star game is Aug. 11. TSSAA rules say an athlete can’t participate in an all-star game after school starts.
Yet, a player from a Nashville area school can play since his school doesn’t start until after Aug. 11. The rule is designed to prevent athletes from missing school.
One more problem: Hagenow can attend and practice and enjoy all activities provided in San Diego, but he can’t play in the game.
“Good question,’’ said Jody Wright, athletic director at Fulton High School and a member of the TSSAA Board of Control. “Somebody needs to explain that to me.’’
There is no reasonable explanation.
The TSSAA needs to change the rule – now.
The rule can be changed by a school simply making a proposal and getting enough support. The TSSAA legislative counsel meets in December.
“It’s rarely not changed if it has majority support,’’ Wright said of a proposal.
Wright said if you polled the board, “I don’t know if you’d get enough support to keep the rule.’’
Wright said there have been cases where a third-string tackle from a school has been invited to a football all-star camp, just so organizers can make money off the athlete.
“There are freshmen and sophomores who have been invited to All-American camps who haven’t seen the field, and they’re charged $500 for equipment and expenses,’’ Wright said.
Wright said the policy was enacted not to prohibit but to protect players from getting involved in scam all-star outings.
“I think the intent was the protect student-athletes because there are so many all-star games that are money-makers for organizers,’’ Wright said.
But there are some commendable all-star games that are beneficial and rewarding.
Maybe the TSSAA can identify the legitimate all-star outings and nix those that are not.
Wright has an idea: “To me, if an athlete pays expenses, it’s not legit because someone is making money off them.’’
Wright isn’t sure if the scam camps affect more football or basketball or baseball players. But he does know they exist.
As for one in-state baseball player being able to play in the Perfect Game event and another not, that doesn’t sit well with Weight.
“I have a hard time hanging my hat on that,’’ Wright said. “It should be equally enforced from Bristol to Memphis. … It’s a rule with loopholes.’’
There is a decent chance the rule will be amended, if not overhauled.
“Do I think it needs to be looked at?’’ Wright said. “Yes I do.’’