High School Sports Shouldn’t Be About Winning At All Costs

By Gregory Moore
Updated: May 15, 2006

SAN ANTONIO – Sometimes in your own backyard you simply do not want to look at the overgrowth by the back fence. You know it’s there and when you go cutting the grass you attempt to get rid of it but because of it’s very presence, you decide “I’ll do it next week when I rent a sickle mower”.

The problem is though, sometimes you don’t get to it soon enough and it infests your whole yard with weeds and other earthly growth that sucks your luscious lawn dry. Sometimes in high school sports, this very concept materializes and folk in the community figure that they’d get to it in a few months. This is especially true where cheating is taking place.

In San Antonio, a local sports story has come forth as the poster child of what is exactly wrong at the varsity sports level for many programs across the country and the situation reared it’s ugly head. This time however, the gardener got to the growth but now this growth has affected the landscaping scenario of a community and healing needs to take place.

This very situation has blackened the San Antonio community and I’m surprised that it hasn’t hit a national stage. As important as high school sports is in this country, the fact that four players from Mexico transferred to a high school’s baseball team that coincidentally had 25 wins should be making some serious noise. Yet it hasn’t made much noise except from a few writers who think it is appalling that such a travesty has taken place.

Ladies and gentlemen who are parents, let me introduce to you the travesty known as the “Illegal Bulldogs” of Monclova, Mexico. Let me introduce to you their handler, Ray Vera and let me introduce the victims of the travesty that these five individuals have maimed; the other players from this high school’s baseball team, the four players who were replaced by the Mexican players and a community that was proud of what these kids had accomplished without PRIOR knowledge of recruiting violations, lying and total deception.

For many of you, this story has no meaning to you but I implore you to read the story, which can be found by CLICKING HERE. Again, maybe this story doesn’t meant much to you but it should because if you have a child who is playing a high school sport or you have one in the process of possibly playing at that level, there are some rules, regulations and known facts that you need to know as a parent.

Namely you need to be aware of the transfer rules if you move to another school district within the same city or state, that you be aware of the residency rules in regards to participation, and that you also know what your state’s governing body requires and/or expects from your child if he/she participates in high school sports. In regards to the San Antonio situation I am talking about, it seems that none of the afore mentioned guides were even followed by Vera and those who wanted those four kids from Mexico on the team.

The University Interscholastic League, the governing body for the Lone star state when it comes to high school extracurricular activity has some very stringent rules in regards to international players. Among those rules are the following: A. A copy of the student’s J-1 visa and certification papers from the approved CSIET (Council on Standards for International Educational Travel) United States Foreign Exchange Program accompanies a waiver form; B.

The exchange student has not completed four years of high school attendance; C. The exchange student has not received advanced training (defined as training which is above and beyond that which is normally provided in Texas public schools) in the germane activity prior to arriving in Texas, such as pre-Olympic training, being nationally ranked or having similar status in a sport, or participation on a national team; and D. The exchange student meets all other UIL eligibility rules.

Also among those rules on the UIL’s eligibility webpage, one very important rule was posted there as well and that was: Participants were not recruited. In the case of the Burbank High School scandal, these four players from Monclova, Mexico were very much recruited because they did not meet the UIL’s standards on residency and enrollment in school.

However, Vera was able to get these four players enrolled in the school where he was an instructor and put them on the baseball team because they had practiced with a few Bulldogs’ players in January. The stench was present all the way back then and many supporters, many of them parents, cheered this team on to 25 victories.

But now that gravy train is over and the carnage is what is left. If you have read the San Antonio Express-news story by now in another window, you will understand how and why this team had to be deflowered in public so badly. What has happened to a bunch of really good kids is the storyline that you normally see at the college level; kids pay price for coach’s ego and ‘all cost’ attitude for winning.

That is why it is important to actually be a good parent and make sure that you understand the rules of varsity sports these days. We must remember that at this level, it is truly supposed to be about the kids. Recruiting of players to stack a team is morally reprehensible and should definitely be looked upon by a community as a crime against all that is about sportsmanship.

What Coach Vera did here in San Antonio to these young men, their families and the community was something that should be unforgivable. Many would say that we must forgive him because he made a mistake in judgment. I can’t buy that philosophy. When you go out of your way cheat a system that is about kids first, then you don’t deserve a second chance. Hopefully when the UIL finishes its investigation, the ruling will come down for the San Antonio Independent School District to remove him as head coach.

My suggestion is that the Texas Education Agency looks into this situation as well. Those kids at Burbank didn’t bring this problem on themselves; Vera did that with his cheating and covers up techniques. For him he’ll get reprimanded and will have to find a job somewhere else.

For the four kids and their now 21 teammates sitting home, their moment in the sun is forever gone. That’s the tragedy of this whole story. That’s why Vera must be fired from his post. And that is definitely why you, as a parent, need to be up on all the rules and regulations when it comes to your child’s varsity sport participation.