Athlete Chooses Marathon Over Track in NSAA Misunderstanding

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Ike Maytum had high hopes for Malcolm Public Schools' track team, a team he was on for the part of the year.

But, a misunderstanding with a rule in the Nebraska Schools Activities Association led him to quitting the team, so that he could race in the Lincoln half marathon.

"It hurt," Maytum said, "leaving my team down.

"As a senior, I was out there, I had a lot of underclassman looking up. It just kind of left a hole in my heart leaving the team like that."

But, the NSAA said that this isn't the case.

They said athletes competing in Nebraska sports have the option to make an exchange with a non-school sporting event and a school event.

"They would have to trade one of their regular season contests," Rhonda Blanford-Green, the executive director for the NSAA, said, "for the ability to participate in an outside, organized event."

The NSAA said it's all about maintaining competitive fairness and offering the same opportunities to all students.

"If there's individual events that meet the criteria," Green said, "and they're able to exchange those dates, then we're flexible in terms of having them ask for approval.

"We look at all of those parameters, and then we say whether or not that'd be something they're allowed to do."

Green said the NSAA doesn't actively encourage students to take part in non-school related activities. However, especially in individual sports, they get a lot of requests from students asking to take part in other contests.

Green also admitted, however, that the bylaw isn't very clear. She said they get plenty of other requests from students every year, however.

Green also said she's not sure if there's a lack of communication or understanding on the opportunities students have because so many others utilize the system.

Maytum said he's not blaming anyone for the misunderstanding, but does hope this raises awareness of the options available to all.

"Regardless of who is to blame," Maytum said, "if there is any fault to blame, maybe just the rules being able to be understood better could definitely help out in this situation."

Maytum continues to prep for the half marathon, and said he still has a role to play for his team with the state meet weeks away.

"I look forward to seeing them out there," Maytum said, "and being able to cheer my teammates on even though I'm not out here competing with them."

These rules apply to all NSAA activities, not just track.

If your child is interested in taking part in a non-school event during their respective sport's season, they need only to contact the NSAA and get permission.

Green said it's been awhile since she turned one down, but, there are limitations.

The NSAA bylaws can be read in the sidebar next to this story.