During our five years as teammates with the Tampa Bay Bucs, we forged a bond that will endure the rest of our lives. Now, as high school football coaches, we try to pass along this sense of honor, fair play and sportsmanship to our young student-athletes.
Unfortunately, those things are under attack in the Legislature. Two bad proposals would undermine the ideals that are why we have high school athletics in the first place. The legislation would undercut the authority of the Florida High School Athletic Association and open the door for wholesale free agency for high school athletes.
Under the proposals — HB 1279 and SB 1164 — students could easily switch schools to play for a different high school sports team. All they'd have to do is meet the athletic and academic requirements set by the schools they choose.
We strongly object to changes that would let recruiters target impressionable young people as they finish middle school, filling their heads with dreams of championships and college scholarships. This would inflict damage on overall school spirit. When fair and friendly competition gives way to the win-at-all-costs mentality of a few high school athletic powerhouses, all notion of fair play is destroyed.
Over many years of playing football, we learned the core lessons of sportsmanship, and we will never sacrifice them for the sake of winning. That is why we believe HB 1279 and SB 1164 are bad for Florida's children. To learn more and get involved, go to www.parentsforfairplay.com.
Mike Alstott is head football coach at Northside Christian High School, in St. Petersburg. Reidel Anthony coaches at Glades Central High School, in Belle Glade.