Guest Opinion: OSAA’s treatment of student athletes

After being forced to forfeit from state competition, Lincoln Tennis Seniors share their disdain for OSAA treatment of student athletes.


Photo Courtesy of Danny Luo

Lincoln Varsity Tennis team poses with an International Baccalaureate flag and their second place OSAA trophy upsidedown expressing their anger and disappointment with the organization.

This past week, the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) hosted the 2019 State Tennis Championships. For the six seniors who qualified for the tournament, it was our last opportunity to play for our team, which has become a second family over the last four years of tournaments, practices and road trips.

Four of us in the tournament are full IB diploma candidates. The tournament was inconveniently scheduled on the days of the IB English and IB Physics exams. The OSAA released a schedule outlining times for matches, and we realized those times would coincide with our tests. We were determined to do everything in our power to both test and compete, so we drove to the OSAA headquarters to speak directly to the director of the association. We presented a non-invasive schedule change proposal that would not affect scheduled court times and leave the same breaks in between matches, allowing all student-athletes to play. We were told that they would look it over and get back to us. They never did.

Because the OSAA provided no assistance, we took matters into our own hands. We reached out to Kim Bliss (Lincoln’s IB Coordinator), who was kind enough to give some leeway on when we took our IB tests. On Friday morning, we took our IB English exams at 7:00 am in order to make our quarterfinal matches. After completing the test, we rushed over to the courts. This was where the OSAA’s apathy became shameful.

The doubles quarter finals were scheduled for 9:15 am. However, without any warning, the tournament directors decided to start the matches at 8:00 am instead. Our doubles team arrived a mere four minutes late for this newly allotted time. Yet, the OSAA forfeited our doubles team, despite the fact that there were open courts and our opponents wanted to play as well.

Another Lincoln player had a second test in the afternoon, so he requested to play his semifinal match earlier, since other matches had already been moved up beforehand. Despite the fact that both players had an adequate break and courts were available, they refused to adjust the match time because of unspecified organizational priorities, with the full knowledge that this would prevent him from playing at all.

Another student had to finish the physics test an hour early just to make it to his match (which had also been moved up mid-examination) with only minutes to spare. Ultimately, three Lincoln players were defaulted from their matches because of testing, despite our efforts in trying to accommodate a schedule that had supposedly been ‘too difficult’ to change when we had pro-
posed revisions beforehand. When we expressed our frustrations and desire to play in a civil, non-confrontational manner, we were met with stubbornness, ignorance, nonchalance and condescension. The entire situation was handled disgracefully by the OSAA. We did everything to make participation in the tournament a possibility, but our efforts were not reciprocated in any capacity.

At the end of they day, this isn’t the end of the world; we understand that this is just a tennis tournament. However, the individuals who represent the OSAA have an obligation to students to act as role models who demonstrate ideals of compassion, empathy, and sportsmanship, and support the academic pursuits of high-achieving students. As the adults in this situation, the OSAA let all of us down. We only hope that they do not fail future student-athletes in the same way they failed us.

According to their website, “The mission of the OSAA is to serve member schools by providing leadership and state coordination for the conduct of interscholastic activities, which will enrich the educational experiences of high school students.” When an organization is unabashedly contradicting its own mission statement, that is a strong indication that major changes need to be made.

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