The Edmond Sun

October 21, 2013

The war on common sense

Rep. Jason Murphey
Special to The Sun

GUTHRIE — OSSAA provides case-in-point of legalism trumping common sense. Consider this observation: An increase in the number of laws, policies, rules and procedures produces a corresponding decrease in the application of common sense.

As government and the industry that surrounds it grows so do the rules and policies designed to ensure the consistent application of the governmental activity. Over time these rules and policies take on a life of their own. While each individual proposal may seem reasonable, in the cumulative, these edicts create chaos as they conflict with each other. The average person doesn’t have time to read all of these proposals much less play the bizarre legal game of trying to figure out which conflicting law to follow.

Two horrible outcomes result.

First, you, the taxpayer, foot the bill as an army of compliance officials, attorneys and bureaucrats require more and more of your taxpayer dollars so they can play the bizarre game of seeing who can best argue the competing rules.

Second, these rules and laws are easily used to entrap the unsuspecting citizen who may be a target of a personal vendetta or simply run afoul of an enforcement official.

I can point to no better example of this insanity than the testimony recently provided to the Legislature. Myself and several other representatives conducted a study of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association better known as the OSSAA.

Amongst other duties, OSSAA determines the playing eligibility of student athletes. The organization uses a 40 page rulebook and a 73 page policy document to keep school districts from recruiting players.

Over the course of three days we heard testimony from a parade of aggrieved parents and coaches who are attempting to deal with the trauma resulting from their interaction with the OSSAA and its gauntlet of rules and policies.

In one particularly egregious case, OSSAA initially denied the eligibility of a student who had to move in with his grandparents because his mother had serious health issues and eventually passed away. Any person who looks at this tragic situation through the lens of common sense will know this wasn’t a case of recruiting and his eligibility to play sports should have never been denied. Yet somehow through the prism of countless rules and procedures, this student initially was told that he could not play.

Many others could have testified to our committee but they fear retaliation. There are so many rules and policies in place that just about anyone potentially could find themselves receiving a punishment.

In an attempt to protect themselves, a growing number of school districts are hiring full-time OSSAA compliance officers. They are spending your taxpayer dollars on a full-time employee just to interpret these rules and policies.

None of this is necessary. As one area coach explained, if two school districts sign off on a transfer then there should be no question of eligibility. In this one simple sentence this coach applied the ever-diminishing art of common sense, which if used by the OSSAA would save many taxpayer dollars and lift the nonsensical oppressiveness of too much law from the backs of coaches, student athletes and their parents.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at