TSSAA Rule Punishes Standout Pitcher

Antiquated TSSAA robs high school pitcher of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

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Photo by Danny Parker.

Ryan Hagenow is a class of 2020 right handed pitcher out of Knoxville, TN. He plays at Farragut High School, and was recently named a Perfect Game All-American. The 6-foot-5-inch 200 pound University of Kentucky commit throws a changeup and curveball to compliment his 92 mph fastball.

Unfortunately, a Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) rule is going to keep him from participating in the upcoming Perfect Game All-American Game. The game is August 11 at Petco Park in San Diego, home of the San Diego Padres.

Unsurprisingly, TSSAA Executive Director, Bernard Childress, doesn’t seem to have an issue with the rule and this specific enforcement of it:

If Hagenow were to play in the game, he would be ineligible to play his senior season. The Kentucky commitment confirmed he will not play in the game, but he can participate in the event's other activities, including practice, and not lose his eligibility, TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said.

Youth athletic governing bodies are designed to protect their various stakeholders (players, teams, schools, coaches, umpires, referees, etc) and the integrity of the game. When that power yields results that hurt, hold back, or detract from the long term development and well-being of those stakeholders, they should be held accountable.

TSSAA, how in the world do you think this is okay? This kid gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to play with the best high school baseball players in the country in a Major League stadium in August and you won’t allow it.

The saddest part of this situation is TSSAA has no problem with Hagenow traveling to the game, working out before the game, getting as many reps in as he needs to before the game or in practice. If the rule was to "protect" the athletes from overuse, etc then I would at least entertain its validity.

But after reading the wording of the rule, this is nothing more than a money grab for TSSAA - at the student athlete's expense. When this rule was put into place, TSSAA was not getting a piece of the All-Star game pie. This effectively forces All-Star game organizers to pay $1,000 to TSSAA to sanction or else players aren't allowed to play.

The rule, Article II Section 23, reads:

No student shall be permitted to participate in an all-star game unless it is sanctioned by the TSSAA and unless he/she has completed high school eligibility in that sport.

An all-star game is defined as any contest (where admission is charged either directly or indirectly) in which one or both teams is composed of players selected from two or more regularly constituted teams. This regulation does not apply to summer baseball and girls softball.

Any all-star game involving TSSAA athletes must be sanctioned by the TSSAA. A filing fee of $250.00 is required for the game to be considered for sanctioning. If the game is approved then an additional approval fee of $750.00 is required. If the request is denied, then all fees shall be refunded. This fee is required annually for games involving groups not affiliated with the TSSAA.

No member school shall permit use of its equipment, facilities, or of its employees, directly or indirectly, in the management, coaching, officiating, supervision, or promotion of player selection of any unsanctioned all-star team or contest during the school year.

Shame on you TSSAA, we thought you were here to protect the kids.

Please make an exception. There has to be a mechanism to do so.

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