Why is this done? Why do parents decide to have their athlete repeat a year in middle school? Presumably it’s all about giving their young athlete an extra year of physical maturation and growth before they enter into HS competition.
This is a topic that I have touched upon in in the past. There seems to be two ages when this is contemplated:
One, when the child is about to enter kindergarten. Perhaps the Mom and Dad don’t feel that their child is emotionally or psychologically mature enough at age 6 to start school. In effect, he or she is “young” for their grade, and the parents don’t ee any real upside with their child being one of the younger kids in the class.
This is very common place, and it happens all over the country. From a sports parenting perspective, in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with holding your child back – that is, let them end up being one of the older kids in their class. Later on, that can be of great help as they mature and find their way as an athlete.
However, being held back a year and asked to repeat it also occurs when a child is in middle school, often the 6th or 7th or 8th grade. At this age, while sometimes there are academic or maturation concerns, in many cases, this is a case where parents feel that, in order to maximize their child’s athletic potential, it’s in their best interest to hold them back.
Now….think back to when you were a kid. There was, and still is, a HUGE difference between a kid who is 12 and 13. Look at the giant 13 year olds who play LL baseball as compared to the 12 year olds who haven’t started adolescence yet. The difference is often significant.
Of course, with adults, there’s not much difference between a 41-year-old and a 42-year-old. But during the teenage years, one year’s extra growth can be a major advantage.
And apparently, there’s a tremendous number of middle school athletes who are doing just that: repeating a year in school. NJstate senator — former NJ Governor Richard Codey — has a passion for coaching youth basketball in his home state, and he’s become aware that more and more talented basketball players are getting caught up in this trend.
The trend has become so prevalent that Gov. Codey is going to introduce a bill that would take away a year of HS sports eligibility from the youngster if he or she repeats a year in middle school. That is, student-athletes are allowed four years to play sport in HS. If Codey has his way, kids who repeat a grade in middle school would be allowed three years to play.
Good idea…or not?
On my show this AM, we had a number of calls who basically agreed with Gov. Codey’s concept, but a lot of them had questions as to how does one enforce this and so forth. People questioned whether a school or state even had the right to prevent parents from doing this, meaning how could NJ legislate as to what parents thought was best for their child.
Gov. Codey pointed out that when a youngster repeats a grade, that often has the impact of affecting other kids in terms of playing time. That is, if a star center in basketball is repeating 7th grade, then he’s going to take away major playing time from any other youngster who wants to play center.
He also pointed out that this kind of hold back practice was becoming more and more routine in NJ, and that it’s also more and more of a national issue. And what’s sad, he noted, is that too many kids who are big for their age at 12 or 13 tend to plateau and don’t grow much when later in their teens. In other words, they are stars in middle school just average later on in HS.
There were other callers who wondered how the NJ Interscholastic Athletic Assn would be involved on this. The NJIAA is already saying that middle school sports is out of their jurisdiction, and they wouldn’t be able to enforce this.
In other words, it’s going to be most interesting to see how all of this plays in the NJ legislature. While everybody agrees that this is a growing problem, nobody seems to be sure how to prevent it from happening everywhere.