For MS, changing rule C2 may make some player pools bigger than others and let high schools draw from multiple middle schools in their district...yet there is already a huge discrepancy in player pool size between, say, Fisher Catholic and Centerville, and the smaller schools have to deal with that challenge. I might feel differently if there were such a thing as OAC State for middle school, but even then I don't think starting a player younger than ninth grade on your OAC high school playoff team constitutes an unfair advantage.
MVS isn't a traditional power, but we've been trying to become more established, and in building a player base we've attracted students younger than 9th grade...to echo my points above about high school-to-college, those kids can practice on high school questions with the high school varsity and play against high school teams, even take high school classes (as some students do, particularly for math) but there is somehow an unfair advantage gained when you cross the threshold into the playoffs. To Tom's point, I would say middle school teams are already playing the game and getting experience...a leg up on experience is great, but we don't make rules about how long a person has to have played quiz bowl before they join a team.
To clarify my position: do I feel Team A with a seventh grader in one of the four seats would have an advantage over Team B with all high school students filling the seats in OAC Playoffs 2018 simply because its a younger player? No, I do not - what I would find as advantageous however would be if Team A - in say 2021 - has a student that accrued more than four years of OAC Playoff experience whereas Team B has no students with that much playoff experience because the opportunity to have middle school QB or middle school students competing for them was not afforded to that high school and its quiz team. I will say, however, if the eight semester clock were to be rid of and along came a 'pledge to play for private high school' provision to ensure parochial schools can have MS students playing for them (what Tyler described) then that would assuage my concern - a concern presumably shared by several members of the OAC Committee, judging by the comments on the ruling Joe published earlier this thread - of "well, not EVERYONE can get middle school students playing for them even if they wanted to because of reasons X, Y, and Z."
To Tom's point, I would say middle school teams are already playing the game and getting experience...a leg up on experience is great, but we don't make rules about how long a person has to have played quiz bowl before they join a team. If I didn't get into quiz bowl until I was a junior, I'd have an experience gap against kids on other teams who had been playing since they were freshmen, but it would be odd to call that an unfair disadvantage during a competition.
For what it's worth, I was getting at earlier (than usual) OAC playoff exposure being advantageous (as opposed to early participation in regular quiz bowl in general) in that the questions are longer; the format is unique; and that the competition is usually stiffer than the average Saturday tournament or local league - all three conditions of which makes OAC playoff play different than playing NAQT events on a high school B team or a middle school team. I'm aware they're already playing in their own events - I ain't worried about that, nor do I think that's an advantage to the same degree as actually playing in the OAC playoffs is a year before high school (as a reminder, I'm talking about the accrual of experience from a 'head start' as being advantageous.) And to head off anyone noting "well you can practice on OAC playoffs questions, they're online": practice =/= playing in an actual game in the situation.
The big stumbling block is determining who is eligible to play for which school, and that's the piece of the discussion I'm most sympathetic to. However, I don't find the gray area so hard to legislate. Middle school students attending their district middle schools would play for the high school they would attend in their district based on their address. This would mean in Tom's example, the player would have to play for Westerville North, and if they did not have a team, then that student could help start one (again potentially helping to grow the game). For independent and parochial schools that go beyond 8th grade, a middle school student would retain affiliation for that school. For the many independent and parochial schools that stop after grade 8, I see two ways forward. First would be to allow a student and his or her family to establish a feeder affiliation with an independent or parochial school in the area (for example, in Dayton, a lot of students in the Catholic middle schools intend to go to either Chaminade Julienne or Archbishop Alter). Once established with the OAC, that affiliation could not be changed over some set interval of time or until the student actually enrolls in a high school. The second, less gray-area way is to take a leaf from the sports book and allow non-public school students to play for their district's public high school if they don't have a team to join, thereby using residency again as the criteria for affiliation. This would handle the vast majority of cases...again, I really don't know how common middle school kids making OAC tournament rosters would be, especially when each school only brings one team to the playoffs. With something like this in place, I don't see the slippery slope of nefarious recruiting arising, at least no more than it already could exist trying to recruit high school players to switch schools or move to your district (which I don't think goes on now and hasn't in any recent memory). At any rate, to echo Hari, I don't think having middle school kids play high school OAC playoffs hurts the overall balance of the game or wrecks the format in its current iteration. I feel less strongly about it than I do the dual-enrollment rule though.
Said it earlier in this post, but this can be a good solution if C2 were to be rolled back: a solution for 'what can private schools do about this'. It's pretty creative and responsive to the various challenges private/independent high schools would undoubtedly experience when trying to get middle school students to play on the HS team (or a corresponding MS team) given the different enrollment procedures.