PrepZone: Football practice time could be affected by proposed FHSAA rule change

Players on the Barron Collier High School football team take a break to get a drink of water during practice Thursday afternoon. Lexey Swall/Staff

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Players on the Barron Collier High School football team take a break to get a drink of water during practice Thursday afternoon. Lexey Swall/Staff

— A staple of high school football and a rite of passage for many young athletes could be eliminated in Collier County if new rules are passed by the state's prep sports governing body.

At a meeting last week, the Florida High School Athletic Association board of directors discussed a new rule cutting down preseason practice times to reduce heat-related illnesses. Among the requirements are that teams would not be allowed to hold two practices in one day during the first week of the season.

With school starting earlier in the area than in others across the state, the new guidelines could mean no more two-a-days for Collier County football teams. The prospect of losing practice time early in the year has some coaches concerned about being fully prepared once the games start.

“Where it's truly going to hurt is teaching the fundamentals of tackling and blocking,” Gulf Coast coach Pete Fominaya said. “The less time you spend on the field, the less time you have to teach proper techniques that avoid head injuries and concussions. The less time spent on tackling, the more injuries you see down the road.”

While teams are in spring ball now, practice for the 2012 season begins Aug. 6. Under the proposed rule changes, teams could only practice for three and a half hours during the first seven calendar days, and could not practice more than once a day. Any weightlifting or conditioning would count against the maximum amount of time.

In Collier County's public schools, teachers return to work a week before students, which usually coincides with the second week of practice. Head coaches and many assistants are teachers, and thus must spend their days at school that second week, often leaving the first week of football practice the only time available for two-a-days.

“I understand the changes because of the liability,” Barron Collier coach Dan Pallante said. “In Florida you have to limit the amount of time in the heat because it’s so difficult to handle. A coach would be crazy if they didn’t do it.”

Pallante said the Cougars might try to still work in two practices a day the second week, despite the coaches being in school. That could mean doing two short sessions in the evening.

However, the new changes, if passed as listed on the board of directors meetings agenda, would require three hours off between practices.

“It might possibly mean the end of double sessions in the state of Florida,” Pallante said.

No rule changes have been made just yet. Last week the Daily News reported the changes were official when a member of the FHSAA public relations staff said in an email that the rule would go into effect this fall. However, FHSAA senior director of athletics Gary Pigott emailed the Daily News on Friday to say the rules will not be finalized until June at the next board of directors meeting.

For Lee County football teams, the changes might not be as dramatic. Recently, Lee public schools have started a week before Collier, so the football coaches have been in school the first week of football practice.

“We don't have two-a-days because the county starts so early,” South Fort Myers coach Grant Redhead said.

Redhead added that he isn't worried about losing practice time due to the three-and-a-half-hour limitation because he never has practices that long to begin with.

“We're on the field for two hours and 15 minutes, max,” Redhead said. “After two hours, you lose (the players) mentally. If you can't get your work done in two hours, you need to plan better.”

One of the biggest concerns of the new practice policy is that weightlifting and conditioning would be included in practice time.

Some teams have their players lift before school so they have adequate time to recover before practice in the afternoon. The new rules would force coaches to balance time spent in the weight room and time spent on the field.

“The more fit a person is, the less prone they are to injuries,” said Palmetto Ridge athletic director Trent Holt, who is in Orlando this week for a meeting of statewide ADs. “Do you forgo fitness and conditioning to focus on fundamentals? That could place a student-athlete at a greater risk of getting injured.”

The proposed changes are revisions to an appendix in the FHSAA Handbook. In the handbook, the appendix “Considerations for Fall Preseason Practice” suggests the same rules regarding preseason acclimatization, but they are merely guidelines and not requirements. By adopting the new policy, the FHSAA would require its schools to follow the preseason practice schedule.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 11

Captian_Cataracts writes:

Ban school & tax payer funded football. Hire teachers & buy books instead.

Been_around writes:

get your cataracts fixed....football pays for itself.....

CCPSTeacher writes:

Trust me the county/state gives VERY LITTLE money to athletics. The only thing that comes from them is the coach's salary, which comes out to about a quarter an hour. The refs, minimal equipment and one set of uniforms every 3 years comes out of the athletic department money. Athletic Department money comes from the gate at football games and other athletic events. Everything else is paid for by fundraising. Please make sure that you're educated about the facts before you try to lecture people about the use of taxpayer money.

Caliban writes:

ccps, what about the fields? are those all 100% paid for? teach me.

prolate07 writes:

in response to Captian_Cataracts:

Ban school & tax payer funded football. Hire teachers & buy books instead.

You are truly an idiot! Football and other sports are helping these kids and their futures. Not to mention keeping them out of trouble.

cgbexec writes:

in response to Captian_Cataracts:

Ban school & tax payer funded football. Hire teachers & buy books instead.

Education is not just about reading, writing and arithmetic. A well-rounded education encompasses Art, Music, Theatre and Sports. Sports are one of the best ways to team build and promote group social interaction. In order to become successful, these skill sets are needed and are a vital part of education.

cgbexec writes:

in response to wonderfuI:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please don't comment on something you know nothing about. Unless you have something productive to add, or a valid question to ask, keep your uninformed opinions to yourself.

Football is a tough sport that is not for everyone. It requires a level of physical fitness along with sheer size in order to play successfully. As with any sport of this caliber injuries can occur. If you feel your child is not cut out for a sport this grueling, then by all means don’t let them play. I would also never push a child to play football. This is a sport that requires your heart to be in the game.

absolutsti writes:

Football is turning into something it shouldn't be..... a meal ticket for parents. At what cost?

Silent1nomore writes:

Football is the game of life!
You have to be tough, you have to have character, and you have to work together! You have to love your teammates like family to even have a chance at winning!
These guys will be the future leaders and excellent employees because they will know how to sacrifice and give the most of themselves to be a team player!

Sure there are injuries and accidents, but just walking out into the world each day can produce mishaps!
Most kids today are coddled and just sit on the dead part of their backsides!
The world needs more young people that this sport and many other sports produce!

Leopold writes:

Caliban makes a point I had never thought of:

"ccps, what about the fields? are those all 100% paid for? teach me."

Is this true? And if so, how much is the cost? I do not have an axe to grind; I just am interested in truth and accuracy.

CCPSTeacher writes:

in response to Leopold:

Caliban makes a point I had never thought of:

"ccps, what about the fields? are those all 100% paid for? teach me."

Is this true? And if so, how much is the cost? I do not have an axe to grind; I just am interested in truth and accuracy.

I'm happy to answer your question about the fields. The new football fields put in a couple of years ago cost about $900,000 each. The money came from the "capital funds" part of the budget. By state law, that part of the budget can only be used to build new schools or to improve the current facilities. That money could not have been used for salaries, books, supplies or technology(operational budget).

Also the cost of maintenance on the new fields is much, much lower. Grass fields require painting before every game which is very, very expensive. They also have to be cut, weeded, fertilized, watered and re-sodded regularly. Each new field should save the county $30,000- $50,000 a year in maintenance costs. Maintenance costs come out of the "operational budget" so that helps the county stretch that part of the budget. Over the course of a decade, putting in new fields will actually result in savings for the county.

To me the best part of the turf fields is that they reduce the chances of injury to athletes. That alone makes them worthwhile.

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