VHSL votes against out-of-season practice restriction proposal

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Virginia High School League announced that its executive committee voted 29-3 on Wednesday against a proposal seeking to ban out-of-season practice from the period of Aug. 2 through May 31 of each school year.
In 2011, the VHSL voted to allow practice throughout the year with the exception of four designated 10-day “dead periods.” Three of them start on the first permissible practice date of each of the three sports seasons, and the fourth takes place over a one-week period over the summer containing July 4.
Wednesday’s vote took place because of a proposal submitted by Region 2C officials. Region 2C consists of Appomattox, Buckingham, Chatham, Dan River, Floyd County, Fort Chiswell, Giles, Glenvar, Gretna, James River (Buchanon), Nelson County, Martinsville and Radford.
Region 2C’s reason for wanting to restrict the out-of-season practice rule, according to the VHSL, was that too much is being asked of coaches and students.
In the proposal Region 2C sent to the VHSL, it stated, “As far as coaches with the way we are doing things now a good coach can only coach one sport. Back in the day we used our coaches for multiple sports. We are now to the point that we are having to pull coaches from outside the education system and a lot of times these people know the sport but are not as trained in handling students or parents outside the sport. I feel this is leading to more undisciplined acts such as ejections and fights. When we have a coach that we can use in multiple sports it helps get more students to play because they know them better.”
When it comes to students, Region 2C reasoned that out-of-season practice rule is leading to more students focusing on a single sport, which can lead to “overuse injuries.”
“We keep putting in rules for each sport to limit these but we have not addressed the year-round overuse,” Region 2C stated. “We have seen a rise in these injuries since we went to year-round practice. More information is coming out showing that playing multiple sports is beneficial to any athlete and feel we need to start pushing this as an organization.”
In an email, VHSL communication director Mike McCall said the VHSL’s 316 schools could try to overturn Wednesday’s vote if one of the six group boards wants to bring up a vote for its membership meeting in March. It would take a two-thirds majority vote (at least 211 schools) to do so.
The VHSL did announce on Wednesday that it will form a committee to review current out-of-season practice policy focusing on things like coaching burnout, specialization and overuse. The VHSL said a representative from each of the state’s 24 regions will be on the committee.