Bethlehem to sport new varsity guidelines

The Bethlehem Board of Education has addressed the districts' guidelines pertaining to its athletics program following a controversy involving student athletes being cut from teams for missing practices.

Although a resolution outlining absences from the athletic program hasn't been officially adopted, a framework resolution was accepted by the school board during its Wednesday, May 7, meeting. School officials and athletic directors are currently working on the exact language to be adopted by the district's new rules.

The situation came to light after students were forced to choose between softball practices and a missionary trip to help Hurricane Katrina victims during spring break. The students who chose to go to New Orleans instead of practicing were cut from the team.

In response to criticism of the situation, school officials put together a committee of athletic directors, coaches, parents and students, to re-evaluate the school's athletic guidelines.

According to the new guidelines, which pertain strictly to varsity-level athletes, students are expected to attend every practice and every competition. If extenuating circumstances are known before the beginning of the season, students are to notify the school immediately and parents are being asked to schedule family obligations and events around the athletic calendar.

If student athletes are unable to fulfill their obligations to the team, they may choose not to participate for the season, the guidelines state. "Should extenuating circumstances be known prior to the season beginning, the student should communicate this information to the coach and Athletic Director before the first day of tryouts."

The guidelines also state that if a student misses a competition, that student will have to sit out of an equal number of competitions.

Officials did not come to an agreement pertaining to the repercussions of missing practices, with the guidelines stating, "The Director of Athletics and the High School Principal shall determine all matters of student athletic eligibility."

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