Proposal could limit summer competition
Of the nine proposals that the state’s schools will vote on next week during the Arkansas Activities Association’s annual meeting of the governing body, Proposal No. 6 has probably been garnering the most attention this summer.
The proposal would put limits on competition days during the summer break. Each sport would be limited to eight competition days, and athletes who play multiple sports would also be limited to eight competition days per sport during that time.
The AAA will consider this proposal and a handful of others on Monday in Little Rock.
Proposal No. 6 was recommended by a committee of football coaches from different classifications across the state, including Springdale Har-Ber coach Chris Wood. It was then placed on a spring survey, where it received 78 percent approval
from school administrators and earned a spot as a proposal in Monday’s meeting.
“Sometimes it’s not only what you’re doing within the state, but what is going on at a national level,” Wood said. “What’s the direction of athletic sports and what are other states doing? How are they managing safety and equity? You look at those details, and you look and see where we are in Arkansas. We’re blessed with how we are able to be with our student-athletes.
“In that, you can’t have it out of control, where you’re going 100 miles per hour all the time. It started from looking at the national pulse of summer activity with student-athletes and what we are doing as a state, and how can we be proactive and continue to manage what is going on and not have anything come down from a national level on regulations and restrictions.”
The proposal would limit coaches to eight competitive days — consisting of any combination of team drills, 7-on-7 passing events and things of the like — during the summer for a varsity team, eight more for a junior varsity team and, in the case of larger schools, eight competitive days for sophomore teams. If a player falls between varsity and sub-varsity, the eight days could be split up for each team.
It would also be beneficial for those who play multiple sports. Those athletes would have eight competitive days in each sport.
“Look at it this way,” AAA associate executive director Steve Roberts said. “When you figure in the two-week dead period, there are basically three weeks before the dead period and three weeks after the dead period before football begins preseason workouts. That’s room for more than one competitive day per week per sport.
“What the proposal does is level the playing field some between those who can spend a lot of time and money going to team camps and such, and those who can’t. But if you look at what every state does around us, we have far fewer limitations than they do and that’s a good thing.”
Wood said he has been fully supportive of the proposal from the outset, but that isn’t the case with some of his colleagues. The Arkansas Football Coaches Association has shown strong opposition against the measure on social media and has used its Twitter account in attempts to convince fellow football and basketball coaches to talk their school administrators to vote against it.
Roberts, who also met with the committee of football coaches that came up with the proposal, said he can see both sides of the issue. Wood also sees his colleagues’ purpose for being against the proposal.
“It’s good to see their passion and the desire for their kids,” Wood said. “They don’t want the opportunity taken away of being with their kids, work with their kids and provide for their kids. That’s where it gets tricky.
“Everybody has a different perspective on the summer and how to do it. I can’t speak for them, and it’s not fair for me to do that. They don’t want to lose that opportunity, and I don’t think that will happen.”
As a comparison, high school coaches in Texas are prohibited from any specific grouping of high school athletes during the summer months for the purpose of conditioning and/or organized instruction. Oklahoma schools are limited to one team camp that must be concluded on or before July 15, while Missouri schools are limited to 20 days of contact — defined as any date on which any coaching or instruction in skills and technique of any sport takes place — per sport during the summer.
While the proposal may limit competition days between schools during the summer, it places no limit on the amount of days or the time per day coaches can conduct practice with their team during that time, with the exception of the current two-week dead period.
“It will have very little effect on my kids,” Benton- ville High girls basketball coach Tom Halbmaier said. “Right now, we do close to six or seven days. The remaining days, we come in and do skill work and stuff of that nature.
“For coaches that have been in this for a long time, they understand that kids have to be kids. I think it creates a break for them because a lot of these players who want to play on the next level are already playing on weekends and working on their game. I support it 100 percent and think it’s long overdue. It’s right for the kids.”
Wood said that even if the proposal doesn’t pass, he will carry out the proposal’s purpose next summer during Har-Ber’s workout schedule. He said the Wildcats had nine competitive days this summer, and he plans on cutting that down while possibly adding days to his junior varsity team, which only had two days.
Another reason for the limits, according to Wood, is for his assistant coaches. None of them are being paid for their services in June and don’t have the contract he has.
“We not only want kids to be kids, but let assistant coaches have some time away,” Wood said. “Not every coach is on a 12-month contract. A lot of times in June, they’re not on contract and volunteering their time. They’ll do that because they’re servants to the program.
“But we’ve had families who moved in from another areas with regulations, and they say ‘is there ever a break around here?’ These kids are going non-stop. We had nine varsity competition days, so we have to remove one, but another program had only two or three. That will provide some equity and opportunity within our state and give every kid the same opportunity.”