SDHSAA proposes amendment change to cut 10-practice rule
PIERRE -- For years, South Dakota administrators have requested an amendment to rid the athletic constitution of a rule requiring 10 days of practice prior to the start of the season. This spring, they have a chance to act upon it.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association has proposed a change to the rule trimming the required 10 days of practice prior to the start of a season to five, while keeping the mandatory dates for the first day of practice and the first day allowable for a game in place.
Waivers have been consistently granted to a school that has a snow day during the first 10 days of practice and the proposed amendment would allow teams to forgo that process. Tennis and golf already abide by the five-day rule, and if administrators vote in favor during the annual meeting in May, the remainder of the sports will follow suit.
“It’s been a rule that’s been in our constitution for years, but it’s been one that we’ve had to waive quite often in the winter,” SDHSAA assistant executive director John Krogstrand said. “... In all of the fall sports, because you’ve got the opportunity for a number of practices in each sport in the time frame, it’s kind of a rule that’s almost redundant.”
The change in rule also opens up a new opportunity for girls basketball teams as the state moves away from combined state tournaments next season. The girls basketball state tournaments are set to be held the week prior to the boys, so it is only natural for girls to play games a week sooner, which is also going to be voted upon simultaneously.
The first week of practice would be the Monday prior to Thanksgiving, and if the 10-practice rule were still in effect, teams would need to practice during that vacation period in order to play the first weekend in December.
“It creates more flexibility in not having to regularly produce waivers for a number of different scenarios and situations that come up from time to time,” Krogstrand said. “There’s no absolute penalty to it. If you’re a basketball team, having fewer practices probably puts you at a disadvantage to go play games anyway. It’s not like it’s a competitive rule.”
The rule was originally crafted decades ago when out-of-season rules were non-existent and it was used to create guidelines for when sports could and could not start, per Krogstrand.
Now that the SDHSAA covers start dates for each sport in advance, there is no need for such a rule, particularly if there is no competitive advantage gained from holding fewer practices before the first game.
“The one-size-fits-all (approach) doesn’t really fit anymore because of what we do with our summer activities and more sport-specific guidelines that we have,” Krogstrand said. “It just makes more sense for it to come off the books at this point. It’s just an old rule that we’ve made better in other sections of code and regulations.”
The amendment will be on the ballot distributed to each school for their May board of education meetings and the SDHSAA will calculate the results at the end of May, but Krogstrand feels the vote will pass, particularly since member schools had been pushing for change.
“There really isn’t a reason to vote against it,” Krogstrand said. “If someone is adamant about having 10 practices, you already have that in the handbook. Not having the extra practices, you’re probably only hurting your own abilities to be successful. I just don’t see a reason for the rule.”