Jake Corman, the state senator who serves the Juniata Valley, is a good guy who has done plenty to help the region and the state.
Brad Cashman, the head of the PIAA, runs an agency that has opened itself to criticism more than once in his tenure for the way it manages scholastic sports in the state.
That doesn't mean Corman is right, nor Cashman wrong, in their dispute over a modification to the state's public school code that was spearheaded by Corman as part of the state budget process.
I spoke to Cashman on Wednesday about the legislation, and you could sense the anger in his voice. He didn't come across like the villain in a Saturday morning cartoon complaining about a bunch of meddling kids who messed up his master plan - he was angry because Corman's proposal is a poorly written, hastily enacted rule that is likely to have more unintended consequences than benefits.
I suspect Corman's intent was honorable, even if there was a bit of vote pandering included in the deal. I have no doubt he genuinely wanted to help the people of Juniata County, whose student athletes remain in the dark about the future of sports programs in the county's two high schools.
But the proposal's use of a mild form of extortion - the legislation would force all schools in the state to stop paying PIAA dues if the organization does not kowtow to Corman's demand - is unseemly even in the world of politics. And, if Corman had been willing to show a bit more patience - or just write a better amendment - everyone could have come out of this happy.
Corman told the Sentinel that his legislative change acted as a safety net, put into place now because the senate will be out of session before the school district or the PIAA has a chance to act on the matter. But if that was the senator's only goal, a narrowly tailored bill that waived the PIAA transfer rule for Juniata students next year would have done the trick.
Instead, his proposal offers carte blanche to students who want to transfer between schools with little to stop them, despite the somewhat meaningless paragraph maintaining the PIAA's anti-recruiting policy.
That's because Corman's legislation goes beyond the exceptional situation in Juniata County - one Cashman told me in May was a first in his 30-plus years on the job - instead opening the door to musical schools under a far greater set of circumstances. And, while it reminds those in the sports world of the recruiting ban, it says nothing about the student (or family) who chooses to leave one school district in pursuit of better athletic opportunity elsewhere (currently illegal).
Any reasonable interpretation of the amendment as written can only conclude this: If a school cancels one sport - any sport, for any reason - then a student may leave that school and transfer to another and be declared immediately eligible to play any sport. So, for example, a school could cut its golf or tennis team, and a football player could legally move to another school where a better football opportunity beckoned - something that is illegal under current PIAA rules.
It may even allow a student to stay enrolled at one school and play sports at another, depending on interpretation.
It also could lead to a mass exodus of students from a school district that cuts any sport, which can only make it more difficult for that district to operate - remember, every student who leaves takes a chunk of state funding to the new school.
And this doesn't touch the issue of the legislature - a member of the laissez-faire GOP, no less - forcing a private organization that receives no state funds to accept its policy or have the rug pulled out from under it (and leave the state of scholastic sports in this state in a shambles).
If the state wants to micromanage high school sports, I know a girls basketball coach in Mifflin County who has much better ideas that the good senator could have put into play.
The PIAA deserves a chance to make its own policy on how to deal with a situation like this, which it has never faced before. Juniata County School District should not have the added pressure of a mass flight from its hallways while it tries to solve its problems.
And the people of Pennsylvania deserve better from their government.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.