May 4, 2011
When the N.C. High School Athletic Association Board of Directors met on Wednesday, it was common knowledge that the football calendar would be looked at.
In the end, the board passed several proposals regarding football, but rejected some others.
Football season will begin on Saturday, July 30, this year instead of the traditional Aug. 1. This move will allow players five days to get their seven scrimmage hours in. The NCHSAA hopes that the increase in the number of scrimmage days will allow for more revenue opportunities for schools.
After the the July 30, start date was approved for football, a motion was made to make the start date for all fall sports July 30. That motion was passed 22-1.
Perhaps the biggest change for high school football season came from a recommendation by the Sports Medicine Committee. The committee recommended the NCHSAA adopt national guidelines for hot weather and football conditioning.
On days one and two of football practice, players may wear helmets. Shoulder pads may be added after day two. Full gear and contact will be permitted after the fifth day.
From days one through five, there is a three hour limit to practice. There is an optional one hour walk-through period, but a three hour cool down period must be observed between the regular practice and walk-through practice. During that cool down period players cannot run, lift weights, or participate in any other drills.
When full gear and contact is permitted on day six, double practices are also allowed.
A double practice consists of two practices in a single day - formally known as two-a-days. During this period, teams can practice for a total of five hours per day, but a single practice session cannot exceed three hours. The two practices must be separated by a three hour cool down period, and the following day must be a single practice.
The NCHSAA has defined a single practice as a three hour maximum with an optional one hour walk-through. The three hour cool down period must separate the practice and the walk-through.
Scrimmages can begin on the ninth day of practice.
"These changes were recommended by our Sports Medicine Committee and have been in place nationally since 2009," NCHSAA Commissioner Davis Whitfield said on Wednesday. "This is really an attempt to keep our young people safe, and with the brutality of football, it is important that they have time for their bodies to recuperate."
Some changes that were requested by high school football coaches were denied by the Sports Committee this week.
Among the denied requests was a proposal for ten days of spring football practice in May with unlimited numbers of athletes.
"This is something that has come up before, and I'm sure it will continue to come up," Wake County Director of Athletics Bobby Guthrie, who is also the chair of the Sports Committee, said. "There's some support for this out there, but it's not widespread."
NCHSAA board members were concerned that creating a spring football period in North Carolina would limit the opportunities for athletes to participate in multiple sports.
"We want our athletes to have the opportunity to play multiple sports," said Guthrie. "This proposal started this at the end of May, so it may not have had too much of an impact, but it would limit some students."
There was also a proposal from football coaches to move the first playing date to the last Friday in August.
Currently, the first playing date is slated for Aug. 19. Under the new 11-week regular season, high school football would end one week earlier, thus limiting the overlap with the winter sports season.
Coaches also requested to limit the pod system to 1-A schools, but that request was also denied. The pod system groups the earlier round of the state playoffs geographically to limit the amount of travel for teams.
Support for live telecasts of high school football in North Carolina has been on the rise recently, but for at least one more year, no high school football games will be televised live.
High school football coaches submitted a request that would allow the live telecast of high school football games on Saturday, but not on Friday. Board members said the request came from a team from the western part of the state that is playing in a national event this year.
"Just a few years ago we went to the colleges and asked them not to play on Friday, and they've been very supportive of that," Guthrie said. "Now I don't know how many toes we would really step on playing on Saturday, but we should be supportive of them as well."
Whitfield agreed, noting that the Atlantic Coast Conference and other schools like East Carolina have decided not to play on Friday night.
Although live telecasts won't happen this year, Whitfield won't rule it out in the future.
"This is something we'll probably continue to talk about and I wouldn't be surprised if we don't come up with something down the road," he said.
The NCHSAA did approve the ability for schools to broadcast games live on their school websites or on the NCHSAA website though.
Live streaming video will be permitted in all sports, as long as the school is the party streaming the video. Third parties, such as HighSchoolOT.com, are not allowed to show live video of football and basketball.
"We hope that this is a new revenue stream for high schools," Whitfield said.
The NCHSAA will partner with a company called PlayON! Sports to provide the streaming capability. The cost is estimated to be $3,000 per year for each school. Individual schools would be responsible for picking up the tab.
"If individual schools chose not to do it, that's their prerogative, but we want to provide them the opportunity," said Whitfield.
HighSchoolOT.com will have more coverage throughout the day Wednesday.