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Bill would allow for play between public, private schools’ sports teams

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Sen. Will Barfoot, R-Pike Road, and Rep. Troy Stubbs, R-Wetumpka, are sponsoring legislation that would allow games between the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the Alabama Independent School Association.

“We’re just looking for opportunities for there to be crossplay, which takes place in the vast majority of (the) southeastern United States,” Stubbs told Alabama Daily News about House Bill 91 and Senate Bill 82. “It doesn’t impact or have any bearing on playoffs or state championships within their organizations, it is just additional opportunities for competition.”

As the law currently stands, schools in their respective associations may not play a school from a different association. Across the state, many schools in the same town are prohibited from playing each other. Barfoot emphasized the importance of these ‘natural rivals,’ giving children the opportunity to compete against friends that attend different high schools.

“This is not just for varsity athletics, it’s and probably more so for middle school athletics,” Stubbs said. “We have kids who are entering middle school or maybe the junior varsity level, who are wanting to try out new sports. If a middle school AISA school can travel ten minutes to play an Alabama High School Athletic Association school. Then we should make every effort to make that possible.”

“I’m looking at it from the eyes of a former coach and a parent of opportunities to play. We should give them every opportunity we can for them to play.”

Barfoot agreed the legislation would create more local playing opportunities for teams.

“You think about the number of kids who maybe want to play, for instance, girls volleyball,” Barfoot said. “If mom and dad say, ‘Hey listen, we’re going to have to drive to these ten games, and it’s going to be two hours away, plus the match plus two hours back. We’re not sure we can commit those time and resources to that. So no, we’re not going to allow you to play in this competition.’”

Legislators, the AHSAA and AISA leadership have been in talks surrounding the cross-association competition. 

“We talked about a pathway forward of how this might play out and what the potential benefits and opportunities would be,” said Stubbs. 

The AISA are supportive of the potential of inter-association cross play.

“Alabama has a proud tradition of excellence in high school athletics, which will continue,” said AISA Executive Director Michael McLendon in an email. “We share a wonderful relationship with the leadership and staff of AHSAA and look forward to the opportunity to grow and strengthen that relationship through cooperative efforts.”

ADN reached out to the ASHAA, but did not receive a response. 

Both bills have been assigned to their chambers’ education policy committees.

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