You have to admire the Wildcat football team from Fort Worth’s Young Men’s Leadership Academy.
They’ve had to play against bigger and sometimes more talented opponents because of a University Interscholastic League rule that doesn’t exactly fit the school.
You have to admire their coach, Joseph Heath. He’s not only their football mentor but also their advocate. He wants the UIL to change the rule and allow the Wildcats to play against schools more YMLA’s size.
Admire them, but that doesn’t mean the UIL rule should change.
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The rule requires magnet schools like YMLA and charter schools within large school districts to play in the same classification as the district’s largest school.
Its enrollment would normally put YMLA in Class 3A; by the UIL rule it would be in Class 6A. YMLA caught a break this year because local Class 5A schools agreed to take the Wildcats in.
The rule prevents small magnet and charter schools from recruiting top athletes and winning championships against small opponents. YMLA isn’t an athletics magnet, but the rule must still apply.
Heath wants the UIL to “separate the academics from the athletics.” That’s what his players and their parents or guardians did when they came to YMLA, and they prioritized academics.
If they also want to be athletes, they play by the rules.