Controversial bill advancing through Florida legislature
The House passed the bill on Wednesday, bringing the proposal one step closer to overhauling prep sports across the state. Critics say the legislation would create a “free agency” system for high school athletes, essentially allowing them to transfer for athletic purposes without penalty. More details can be found here.The Senate rejected a similar bill two years ago.
From The Associated Press:
Rep. Manny Diaz, a Miami Republican, contended the bill was not a “witch hunt” against the current association, but during debate defended the bill by saying that the rules that high school athletes must follow now were archaic and didn’t reflect the education options now available in the state.
“If parents have the choice of making a decision on their child’s education, we should not stop those children from participating,” said Diaz. “At the end of the day let’s bring it back to the kids.”
Rep. Kevin Rader, a Delray Beach Democrat, contended that the bill was drawn by “disgruntled” legislators and change how schools approach athletics in the state. He said that even though thousands of student athletes participate in the state only a handful of eligibility cases ever go through the existing process.
“When you have a bill that is going to create this free agency market, this allowing of student athletes, kids, to pick their coach, to choose where they want to go to school, it is just wrong,” Rader said during debate on the floor.
The senate is expected to act on the bill Monday, according to the Florida High School Athletic Association.
The organization released this statement today, urging constituents to contact their senators and ask them to vote against the measure:
The future of Florida high school sports is once again under attack in Tallahassee. Lawmakers are choosing to meddle in the business of a non-profit organization in an attempt to create “free agency” in high school sports with SB 948.
With proposals being considered in the Florida House and the Florida Senate, lawmakers are toying with the exploitation of high school athletes, which could lead to the demise of high school sports in our state. The legislation creates an unfair advantage for a few schools by ill-meaning individuals who feel it’s important to win at all costs and who can afford to assemble powerhouse teams.