TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — A change in a 2006 Mississippi High School Activities Association rule is causing soccer players across the state to make a tough decision.
The removal of a soccer exception to MHSAA's Independent Team Rule, is causing several soccer players to choose between independent teams and high school teams.
"They put in an exception for soccer that allowed club soccer [or] recreational and high school to co-exist and compliment each other. That has been the situation since 2006. However, earlier this year, that soccer exception was removed," said Mark Halbert the parent of a U17 soccer player.
Halbert says in 2006 the 50 percent rule, which limits the number of club players that can play on the same high school team was, being applied throughout the whole school year which caused a public outcry in the soccer community several years ago and now with the removal of the exception, the outcries have are being heard once again.
"It's going to destroy one, or the other- you're either going to have high school or club," said Halbert.
The Athletic Director for the Tupelo Public School District says the rule will force some of the athletes to choose between playing for an independent team or high school teams.
"According to the rule, you can only have 5 to be able to do both, so when you look at our numbers of having over 20 kids and the majority of them play... really you're having to tell only 5 that they have the availability."
Halbert says this rule could be detrimental for communities who have worked to develop good recreation or club teams.
"If you want to play club and you're not that lucky five, you've got to go travel to Memphis, Birmingham or Jackson to find a club team," said Halbert.
Halbert says he hopes MHSAA will once again add the exception for soccer, but if not, they are considering filing a lawsuit.