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— Shiloh juniors voted off the island

On the heels of the Arkansas Activities Association vote that allowed private schools in Arkansas to continue competition with the public schools, albeit with a slight tweak in the rules, the seven public school members of the 4A-1 Conference voted to move Shiloh Junior High School of Springdale out of the league beginning with the 2010-2011 school term.

Huntsville Junior High was then voted in as a member of the district thereby replacing Shiloh.

The expulsion of Shiloh covers all sporting venues but only affects the junior high level, as Shiloh will remain a member of the 4A-1 for all senior high sports. Arkansas Activities Association rules state that any school refusing to play fellow conference members as defined by the AAA will be ruled ineligible to compete for state championships or participate in playoff competition. As there are no state playoffs or championships in junior high, that rule has no "teeth" on that level. The 4A-1 district vote to exclude Shiloh carries with it no penalty, other than perhaps the effects on Shiloh itself.

Shiloh athletic director Josh Floyd condemned the action saying that the public schools "were always trying to bring Shiloh down." Some sports commentators blamed the vote on the fact that Shiloh has good teams who usually win (the football team is ranked no. 8 nationally in one football poll) and that teams that win naturally earn the wrath of those that don't. That theory just doesn't wash.

Although it is rarely mentioned, Berryville's chief opposition to continued involvement with Shiloh is that school's penchant for poor sportsmanship. Shiloh's school handbook does extol the virtue of good sportsmanship and among other things, forbids the use of profane or obscene language. However, anyone who has ever sat near the Shiloh bench during boys' basketball contests, for instance, can verify that the language directive in their handbook isn't honored very well.

Huntsville will be in the unusual position of playing in two classifications of sports at the same time next year. The Huntsville High School sporting teams will be playing in the 5A West District next year with their junior high teams remaining on the 4A level. Ozark will be the new team replacing Huntsville on the senior high level in the next athletic cycle.

Several coaches predict that more rule changes will be amongst new proposals in twoyears and that the "Shiloh thing" is far from over. I would agree that anytime a school takes advantage of rule loop holes to gain an edge on other schools and anytime a team beats the daylights out of their opposition, then mocks and ridicules those same opponents all the while maintaining that it is all "the will of God" then yes, this thing is and will remain far from over.

Another writer for an area paper expressed the hope that Shiloh wouldn't "take revenge" on their opponents this year for the vote that was cast recently. In light of scores like 65-0, 70-3, and 84-13 that were posted last year, how will anyone know this year when they run the score up for no particular reason or if it's for revenge purposes.

Parenting into oblivion

Thankfully, we haven't heard much lately about the comings and goings of former Razorback quarterback Mitch Mustain since he left the state to join the University of Southern California's football team. For those who might have forgotten, Mustain was named the no. 1 high school quarterback in the United States back in 2005, edging out Florida's Tim Tebow who later won the Heisman Trophy as a Gator.

After he came to Arkansas, you might remember the controversy stirred up by his mother calling press conferences to give the world her feelings on how the Hogs weren't using her son properly.

Even Mustain's grandmother called a press conference to give her important thoughts on how collegiate football ought to be run.

When Mustain was still in high school, his mother arranged for a writer to follow her son around, taking quotes and building a story to be sold in book form concerning the greatness of her son and his fellow Springdale Bulldogs. When the book came out in the middle of Mustain's freshman season at Arkansas, it was revealed that he had made many offhand remarks denigrating head football coach Houston Nutt. His comments put such a strain on his status that his teammates soured on him and he eventually left for USC. USC reportedlywas his mom's first choice in the first place as she was certain that he was destined for greatness and millions of dollars as a future NFL player.

After redshirting a year, Mustain spent last season at USC as a backup quarterback getting very few chances to even get on the field. Although last year's starting quarterback has now gone on to the pros, Mustain's status has dipped even lower in the scheme of things as he is now listed as the team's third string quarterback, behind a freshman and sophomore. Mustain's pro career potential probably died the day he left Arkansas.

Before Mustain came in as a highly touted high school quarterback, Clarksville's Gary Brashears was signed in 1999, having been selected one of the top five quarterbacks in the United States, another "can't miss" future pro prospect.

Rather than having a "mom" problem, Brashears had a "dad" problem, meaning he had a parent who had a history of being way too involved in his son's athletic progress. Brashears came into fall practice at Arkansas completely out of shape with his father later faulting the Hogs publicly for not allowing his son more playing time. His Dad was so vocal, it wasn't long before the Brashears packed their bags and headed for the University of Tulsa, his dad bad mouthing the U of A all the way. He lasted one season there, before he quit yet again to find a better school who could properly utilize his amazing talents. The college jumping player never lasted anywhere more than a year and his final season was played at Alabama State. That last attempt was cut short after being dismissed in the middle of that final campaign for undisclosed reasons.

What is the moral of these stories? Parents make lousy agents. Had Mustain's mom kept her role limited to being a supportive mother, he might have been the senior leader on a perhaps a very good Arkansas team this fall with a chance to make a very good living on the pro gridiron after college. Had Brashears been allowed to have been coached by those that were hired to so without his father interfering, he might well be playing in the NFL now. Both young men were awash with talent but ended up being drowned with parental good intentions.

Aren't intentions the things that pave the road to youknow-where?

Sports, Pages 8 on 08/19/2009

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