Avoiding suspensions in sports: Athletes potentially take the easy way out

“I'm not going to let one mistake wreck my last season of high school sports,” senior lacrosse player said.

I know there is a way to get past the sit-out rule so I don’t have to be suspended during my favorite sport, he thought.

With the winter sports gearing up and preparing for the new season, rumors have surfaced about athletes abusing winter sports to get out of suspensions, including joining a sport, like bowling, only to sit out because of an athletic code violation. Then, the bowling sit-out qualifies as a suspension, and these athletes will be refreshed and ready for their beloved sport, in the spring, lacrosse.

Athletes play sports for many reasons, one being the love they have for it. This makes it quite rude to join a sport and not take it seriously.

“I have definitely heard of people wanting to join the bowling team to serve their suspensions. And to be honest, it does not make me happy. While some people see the bowling team possibly as a joke, my teammates and I take it very seriously,” senior bowler Tanner Davidson said.

It’s not a new idea for students to want to get out of suspensions with sports that they don’t have much interest in. Therefore, they don’t have to serve the suspension in their preferred sport.

“I hope this is a rumor, but in the case it’s not I hope students involved take accountability for their actions without sacrificing another sport,” bowling coach DC Boysaw said.

Students may think that as long as they don’t have to sit during their preferred sport, it doesn’t affect other athletes. This isn’t the case.

“If this happens, it will cripple the bowling team. For example: We usually aim for 14 boys and 14 girls. If we reach 28 students and nine of the boys are suspended, that would transform a Varsity and JV team to just a boys’ varsity team, not to mention possibly cutting students who actually want to bowl,” Boysaw said.

Athletes in the past have used this loophole within the student athlete handbook in other similar ways.

“I chose track because it was a spring sport, so it was between the soccer seasons. I just did track because the only equipment you need are shoes, and it was the least time consuming,” a junior soccer player who wishes to remain anonymous said.

With suspensions, there are more rules than people may think.

“When an athlete is suspended due to a handbook violation, they must try out, make the team and also finish the entire season with the team. If they do not meet both of these conditions, their suspension will not be considered as being served,” Athletic Director Brett Diehl said.

All of the sports programs take a lot of pride in their values and in what they put out on the field or the court. So, when people are just looking out for themselves and jeopardizing others’ seasons, it’s not taken lightly.

“It will affect the bowling program in general limiting and killing our goals we have for this season,” Boysaw said.

Davidson said the boys bowling team has a chance to win states based on the success from last year and the motivation to do even better this year.

With bowling tryouts coming up on Nov. 4, bowlers are wanting to make the season the best it can be. But there’s a big difference between the number of people and the number of people there for the right reasons.

“It’s not just about the quantity of people who try out; it’s quality. But we can always find someone who has the potential to make our team better,” Davidson said.

When people make mistakes, it is a natural reaction to try to get out of the consequences they receive.

“All people should take responsibility for their mistakes and serve the consequences of their choices. I do not want anyone to try and find loopholes and look for ways to get out of something. My hope is that Pioneers do not participate in this action. If a student is participating in a new sport to avoid a suspension in their preferred sport, I hope they develop a lifelong passion for this sport,” Diehl said.

Diehl hopes students enjoy the sports they choose to play, but enjoyment clearly isn’t always the main focus.

“I will never ever do track again; it was awful,” the anonymous soccer player said.

Upon further investigation of the student athlete handbook, it addresses suspensions for offenses that occur at or during a game or infractions that happen during the season. However, it fails to address infractions that occur in between seasons.

According to the Olentangy Athletic Handbook, it states “By adoption of the OHSAA, any student ejected from an interscholastic contest for unsportsmanlike conduct or flagrant foul shall be ineligible for contests for the remainder of that day as well as for all contests in that sport until two (2) regular season/tournament contests are played at the same level as the ejection”

The handbook has information about many topics including suspensions, drug and alcohol use, sportsmanship and more, but it doesn’t mention restrictions for students regarding suspensions during the off season.

“The district would have to change the handbook and the wording in the handbook to prevent students from competing in a "new sport" to avoid a punishment in their preferred sport.” Diehl said.

Being suspended from the sport an athlete is passionate about is something that no one wants to hear, so it’s natural to try to save face and investigate possible solutions or loopholes to the consequence. And until the rule changes, that tempting possibility will always exist.

“I would never encourage anyone to look for ways to get around a consequence. We all make mistakes and there are times where all of us wish we could take something back,” Diehl said.

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