Did You Know? MIAA Rules about Substance Abuse by HS Athletes

Photo by Thomas Stephan on Unsplash

At the Principals’ Coffee on Tuesday April 12, the Owl learned lots of stuff that she should have known. This is not unusual for the Owl, but in this case, I suspect that there are many parents, and perhaps students, who are not fully aware of high school sport rules and penalties. And given the Principals’ (I am talking Principal Peri and Assistant Principal Flynn) commentary on current happenings at the high school, perhaps it is time to take a closer look. The recording of the Principals’ Coffee, which was held live and on zoom, should be available shortly and the link will be posted here.

Here’s the crux of the matter: the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (hereafter MIAA) has determined some serious consequences for illegal substance use by athletes. Note that vaping is illegal if you are under 21. And guess what? According to Weston Public Schools Health Director Mitch Finnegan , there are vapes now so powerful that a person can become addicted to nicotine with a single try. Imagine if you will what peer pressure or “hey, I’ll just try this once at the party” can result in.

During the pandemic, vaping seemed to have dropped off at tht high school, according to Principal Peri. My guess would be that access would be harder, but that is only a guess and was not examined at the meeting. Since the return to all in, the vaping situation is once again quite serious, given the number of vapes that are picked up around campus, and then there are the bathrooms that are famed for vaping. Also for ketchup packet graffitti but that’s a different story. 

The MIAA does not mess around with those who are caught buying, selling, possessing or consuming. Here is the bottom line and what you, as a high school athlete’s parent, signed off on when you signed up your high school athlete on FamilyID:

Section 62 (MIAA Handbook). Student (and Coach) Eligibility: Chemical Health/Alcohol/Drugs/Tobacco

62.1 From the earliest fall practice date, to the conclusion of the academic year or final athletic event (whichever is latest), a student shall not, regardless of the quantity, use, consume, possess, buy/sell, or give away any beverage containing alcohol; any tobacco product; marijuana; steroids; or any controlled substance. This policy includes products such as “NA or near beer”. It is not a violation for a student to be in possession of a legally defined drug specifically prescribed for the student’s own use by his/her doctor.

This MIAA statewide minimum standard is not intended to render “guilt by association”, e.g. many student athletes might be present at a party where only a few violate this standard. This rule represents only a minimum standard upon which schools may develop more stringent requirements.

Okay, so that is pretty clear, right? Wait for the penalties for violation…whoa, Nelly!

[I am truncating the penalty calculations: please see the MIAA site for the details]

Minimum Penalties:

First violation: When the Principal confirms, following an opportunity for the student to be heard, that a violation occurred, the student shall lose eligibility for the next consecutive interscholastic contests totaling 25% of all interscholastic contests in that sport. No exception is permitted for a student who becomes a participant in a treatment program. It is recommended that the student be allowed to remain at practice for the purpose of rehabilitation. 

Second and subsequent violations: When the Principal confirms, following an opportunity for the student to be heard, that a violation occurred, the student shall lose eligibility for the next consecutive interscholastic contests totaling 60% of all interscholastic contests in that sport. 

If after the second or subsequent violations the student of his/her own volition becomes a participant in an approved chemical dependency program or treatment program, the student may be certified for reinstatement in MIAA activities after a minimum of 40% of events provided the student was fully engaged in the program throughout that penalty period. 

Penalties shall be cumulative each academic year, but serving the penalty could carry over for one year. Or, if the penalty period is not completed during the season of violation, the penalty shall carry over to the student’s next season of actual participation, which may affect the eligibility status of the student during the next academic year. (e.g. A student plays only football: he violates the rule in winter and/or the spring of same academic year: he would serve the penalty [ie:] during the fall season of the next academic year).

And here is some other fun stuff, kids. While the Owl as a Gen Xer had zero social media (unless you count a corded telephone), those photos that appear on SnapChat, Insta and who knows what else can be your undoing. Someone snaps a photo of you with a beer or even a cigar–you’re in for some trouble. If someone from another town gets a hold of it, and reports you, guess what? We have tennis-gate. Or was that golf? I can’t remember anymore. Yes, all is fair in love and Dual County League competition. Sigh. 

Dear ‘cats, please be careful. And parents of HS athlete ‘cats, please be aware that you signed your agreement with these policies. 

And finally, please, if you think you might be addicted and need help, please see a guidance counselor or one of the principals. They are on your side.

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