HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

March 5, 2007

Keep your nose in your own business

By Jesse Menden

Growing up, many of us remember our parents or somebody else telling us to “keep your nose in your own business.” I know I heard that once in a while when I was a kid.

Well, now it’s my turn to say it. Minnesota State Legislature: keep your nose in your own business.

When it comes to government, my views are apathetic at best. And unfortunately, for the second week in a row, I have been forced to write about the actions of the legislature. It pains me severely.

Their uninformed decisions force me into unstoppable rants, and it just has to come out.

A few weeks ago, the Minnesota State High School League decided they wanted to do a service to many schools and communities around the state by developing rules to slow down the transfer of students from one school to another for athletic purposes.

Last week, a bill was introduced by a state senator that would repeal the MSHSL’s authority to govern student participation in sports. That bill was added to the agenda for the Senate education committee meeting this week. There is also a similar bill that is currently in a House committee.

So, the legislative body in this state has decided it wants to get its nose dirty in a subject that has nothing to do with them.

Transferring students have become an ever-growing issue these days in the high-stakes world of high school sports. So much more is on the line, and so many more eggs are thrown in the basket at an early age.

The transfer of students generally is not an issue in out-state areas. It is a metropolitan-school problem, mostly involving private schools.

Despite that, the MSHSL is on the right track in proposing a state-wide rule that an athlete must sit out a year from competition if they do not move into the district that they want to play for, public or private.

So much time and effort is put into young athletes these days, and their success has a lot to do with youth programs in the communities they grow up in.

Booster clubs, associations, traveling leagues, and others, support these kids from day one. These groups work tirelessly, not only in hopes of building successful athletic programs all the way through high school, but to create good people that will be an asset to humanity and hopefully, the area.

Students should not be allowed to transfer because they just want to play for a winning team. Build up the team you are a member of, and make those that helped you along the way proud.

In the grand scheme of things, athletics are not that important. If students want to transfer because they think they will get a better education elsewhere, that is fine.

Education should be, and generally is, put ahead of athletics by students, coaches, and administration.

Don’t transfer based on how much exposure you think you will get at another school. It is selfish.

But my true rant, however, is aimed at the legislature.

First of all, the legislature has little to no connection with high school athletics.

They are not in contact with the student athletes. What knowledge do they think they have of student athletes that the MSHSL does not?

The MSHSL is responding to on-going concerns from people involved in high school athletics. What is prompting the legislature to act?

Second, the MSHSL is trying to preserve competitiveness among high school teams. The legislature is trying to promote individualism. High school sports have little to do with individual athletes, it is about the team, and most people realize that.

The legislature should stick to more important issues, such as health care, the price of prescription drugs . . . and adding $30 to their meal allowances.

Keep your nose in your own business. Leave other subjects to the experts.

The MSHSL is not stupid. Let them make the changes necessary that will benefit student athletes across the state of Minnesota.