Your articles on Carrabassett Valley Academy (“A Maine ski school earns its reputation for churning out well-rounded Olympians,” Jan. 5) and “The growing costs of play for Maine youths” (Jan. 12) are interesting counterpoints on junior sport and specialization.

It’s unfortunate that the CVA article lauded the benefits of specialization but had no discussion of “costs of play,” while the second article made club-level sports out to be a luxury good.

Costs associated with national-caliber Alpine skiing development may be tough to get around, but for many sports, earlier specialization and access to professional-caliber coaching are increasingly available, close to home, affordable and a worthy investment.

Regardless, the true tragedy that both articles skate around is the Maine Principals Association’s steadfast unwillingness to even consider the issue.

The MPA blocks the efforts of any junior athlete wishing to pursue development outside of an MPA “season” or high school-offered program, with rules banning coaching outside of an MPA “season,” and penalties for kids who miss high school practices in favor of club practices or competitions.

While emphasizing that early development must be done cautiously, the wholehearted pursuit of sport is a gift that our community should firmly support and to which every interested junior athlete should have access.

I urge the Portland Press Herald to uncover the issue and push for modernization of the MPA approach to sport, so that we can have a real conversation about how kids develop and their relationship with and access to sport.

Currently the topics of both articles are “against the high school rules.” Outstanding club programs in hockey, swimming, skiing, and others are at a disconnect with high school sports, even ostracized, to the detriment of everyone involved.

Until our community addresses this easy-fix issue, we will watch Missy Franklins develop elsewhere, and wonder why the talented and hardworking people in Maine can’t translate our work into the same success.

Nick Kline

Portland