FORSYTH COUNTY — A proposed rule change that would require Forsyth County youth football players to play out of a park that feeds into their eventual high school will not be implemented this year, but is likely for 2017.
During a meeting of the Forsyth County Parks Board on Wednesday night, athletic manager Wayne Maddox updated members on the proposal, which had been brought by the Forsyth County Youth Football Association.
“The school districting rule would be encouraged this year, but is not mandatory,” said Maddox referring to an email sent to the members. “There will be no penalties, so you don’t necessarily have to go to the park that will facilitate high school [sports].”
Currently football is offered at Bennett, Central, Midway and Sharon Springs parks, with county residents allowed to choose where their child plays. Maddox said football registration typically starts in March and ends in June.
The proposed change, which would also likely apply to cheerleading, would require players to register for the park along high school district lines. For example, a child who lives in the West Forsyth district would play or cheer out of Midway.
According to Maddox, the association will take a look at the proposal over the next year.
“There’s supposed to be a committee put together from members of the FCYFA to look at the school districting and try to cover all the ifs, ands and buts, exceptions and hardships and all the things that may come along, with the hope to implement in 2017,” he said.
In a follow-up conversation Thursday, Maddox said he had heard several reasons for some parents’ opposition to the change.
“People that have been involved in the program are used to being able to register at whatever park they want to,” Maddox said.
“Sometimes families might want to move to a different part of the county but still want to participate in a youth sport where they had previously or had older brothers or sisters participating in a certain park.
“Then there are some people out there that want the freedom to move park to park or make a decision based on their own wants, needs and desires.”
Maddox went on to say he felt there was a benefit for athletes to play in the same system, but that individual cases should be considered.
“Doing it by school district, I think, is a good idea and makes sense for kids wearing the school colors and the mascot name for essentially their entire football career,” he said.
“I had suggested at one time to the [association] that if they do proceed with trying to implement the rule, they may want to a hardship committee that would look at a case-by-case basis for certain issues.”
During the meeting, he said another change could be coming in 2017 by way of a potential merger between the youth football programs at Bennett and Central parks.
“They’re entertaining the idea of those two booster clubs merging to become one booster club, which is something I had suggested some time ago,” Maddox said.
“My thought being that Sharon Springs currently facilitates two high schools [Lambert and South], Midway theoretically will facilitate two high schools when the new high school opens [West and Denmark].
“So to me it makes sense for Central and Bennett combined would be two high schools [Central and North] until another high school is built or their numbers are such that there’s plenty of kids to go around.”
A separate committee made up of members of both parks will be formed to look at the merger.