New Washington parents concerned over ‘playing up’ policy for school sports

Clark County students show up to basketball game, told they can't play

NEW WASHINGTON, IN (WAVE) - Too young to play -- that’s what some New Washington, Indiana middle school parents said their boys were told when they showed up for their basketball game.

The seventh and eighth grade teams are in the middle of their season, so when parents brought their boys to play last week, many said they weren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary.

“We got to the school, we got a call from one of the coaches saying my son was not allowed to play,” Matthew Arthur, parent of a sixth grade basketball player, said. "They enforced a rule saying they can’t play up. So 10 minutes before the game, they were told they can’t play.”

Arthur’s son is a sixth grade student but he plays for the seventh grade team. That’s in part because he’s a good player, but mostly because it’s not uncommon for players, boys and girls, to play up a grade in New Washington.

Great Clark County Schools said there was no change in policy, and what happened was a miscommunication.
Great Clark County Schools said there was no change in policy, and what happened was a miscommunication. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

It’s been happening for years to help fill the gaps in the teams that are often very light on players, due to the small size of New Washington schools.

A sudden stop to that playing up process came as a shock to many parents. The school’s athletic director, parents said, told them the playing up was over and that kids would be allowed to play, but only with kids in their respective grades.

“Our AD told us that sixth would no longer play up for seventh and seventh would no longer play up for eighth,” Katy Burke, parent of a seventh grade basketball player, said.

“I went to school in New Washington. I’ve played up, all my friends played up -- it’s been something that’s been going on for years,” Ashley Eurton, parent of a seventh grade basketball player, said. “Everyone in this community that has played sports has played up.”

Greater Clark County Schools said the decision of stopping kids playing up wasn’t a change in policy -- the announcement was a miscommunication.

A district spokesperson said they instructed schools to better enforce the amount of kids playing up in games to ensure that kids that are actually in the age group and playing the game aren’t missing out.

The district does allow New Washington to play up students in some cases due to numbers, according to the middle school athletic handbook. The district said the policy allows them to fill in gaps to complete a competitive team, but younger players are not to play more than the older players.

Parents say if that’s true, that’s welcome news for their kids, who just want to play with the others again that they consider teammates.

“He doesn’t care, they are just a team and they play as a team," Burke said. "It doesn’t matter how old you are, what grade you’re in, you play together.”

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