By May 16, 2014 Read More →

Concerns about expanded summer practices

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — In April, when the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission’s members gave their approval to expanding summer practices for sports programs, many concerns were raised.

For now, the state Board of Education is listening. The board tabled the idea, sending it back to the SSAC for further study.

We’re glad to see the state board is at least listening to concerns, but it would have been better to reject the proposal outright. And we refer back to our editorial of April 13 for the reasons why:

— West Virginia’s students are far from national leaders in academic performance. This initiative sends a message that we value athletics, while doing nothing to raise the ante for classroom performance. (If memory serves us correctly, the turmoil over possible year-round schooling drew more hue and cry than summer athletic practices)

— Summer has long been set aside for quality family time, whether it’s been vacation, working side-by-side in family businesses or just sharing down time and meals. The three-week practice period in June already has undercut this; the WVSSAC’s latest proposal would cause irreparable damage.

— Saying this would help West Virginia’s young people obtain college athletic scholarships is an empty motivation. The number of West Virginians who have received full (or near to it) athletic scholarships comprises a minuscule fraction of the student population.

— It’s very likely this initiative would open up West Virginia’s young people to overuse injuries. Kids who already play a sport in each of the three seasons now will spend a good portion of many of their summer days practicing (this practice period would be voluntary in name only).

— The WVSSAC envisions a détente in which coaches for each sport amiably split up the summer practice period. Football, for instance, might take a two-week window, baseball another two weeks, basketball a third two weeks, wrestling a fourth two weeks, etc. That sounds good in theory, but it won’t last…

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