And until about 10 years ago, even seniors were prohibited from playing in All-Star games during the school year. That means Gerald McCoy or Barry J. Sanders or any of several other high school stars selected for the U.S. Army or Under Armour All-America games would have been prevented from playing.
Like it or not, the landscape of high school — and even junior high — football is changing, with parents who see a need to get national exposure for their child.
“I think it's unfair to me as a parent to not be allowed to let my kid participate in something outside of the OSSAA that I want to pay for,” Thompson said. “I think kids should have the opportunity, if the parents deem it necessary, to go showcase their talents across the country.
“It could help a kid catapult himself — people laugh about 7th and 8th graders positioning themselves for the future — but it could help him be positioned in high school to gain more national exposure.”
The timing becomes the primary issue. A game being played in January violates the rule, where the same game played in June does not.
Still, the OSSAA is simply following the rule that was initially approved by the membership, and the association would have no qualms with adjusting the rule if it was a change the member schools wanted. In fact, Jackson expects the issue to be discussed when the OSSAA meets with members of the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association.
“The rule was developed by the membership. They want us to enforce it, so that's what we're doing,” Jackson said. “At the end of January, we'll meet with the football coaches' advisory committee, and that will be one of the topics that we discuss to determine whether or not that is a rule change they want to pursue.”