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Football limits in Texas; spring sports snowed under in North Dakota
 

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Football limits in Texas; spring sports snowed under in North Dakota

A lot of the furor has subsided over a recent effort by members of the Illinois state legislature to place limits on the amount of constant contact in high school football practices.

But don't start believing this is an issue which will quietly disappear around here. Especially since the one state almost synonymous with high school football is on the verge of enacting practice contact limitations.

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Nearly two weeks ago, the Texas University Interscholastic League's Medical Advisory Committee recommended a 90-minute limit on full-contact, game-speed practices in the regular season and postseason for its high school football programs. And the recommendation was unanimous.

The recommendation still needs approval by the UIL Legislative Council in June and has to be signed into effect by the state's commissioner of education. But since the UIL Medical Advisory Committee started in 2001, all of its recommendations have been approved.

The Texas proposal comes after a state representative proposed legislation which would have limited full-contact practices to one a week. The UIL recommendation defines "full-contact" practices as game speed with tackling and/or blocking to the ground.

And there did not appear to be a significant outcry against the proposal from the Texas coaching community.

"I think, for the vast majority of the coaches, that fits in their practice schedule without them having to make any adjustments at all," Texas High School Coaches Association executive director D.W. Rutledge told the Dallas Morning News. Rutledge is a member of the UIL Medical Advisory Committee who won a state title as a coach and voted for the proposal.

Other coaches quoted by the Morning News said the proposal isn't much different from their current in-season practice schedules, anyway. The restrictions do not apply to preseason practices or spring football, which is permitted in Texas, so coaches can spend the time making sure proper blocking and tackling techniques are taught and used.

There will be some lamenting of the loss of the ways things were done in the old-school days. But people have to understand with all of the safety concerns surrounding football, it won't be long before a new way of doing things will be required all over the country.

Weather or not

This has definitely been one of the more difficult, and frankly miserable, springs between the snow, cold and heavy rains. But high school athletes around here don't have it so bad compared to some other states.

Take North Dakota, for example. A week ago teams were still waiting to get outside to begin their seasons because of all the heavy early-Spring snow.

It was so bad a request was made to move state tournaments back by at least two weeks from their scheduled dates of May 23 to June 5. But that was denied by the North Dakota High School Activities Association because of a variety of scheduling issues with summer and club sports and the Future Farmers of America.

"I think it would have been a hard decision to make," said West Fargo activities director Curt Jones, who made the request for a longer spring season, to the Fargo Forum. "They post those dates and a lot of people do bank on starting summer and planning other activities around those dates.

"Now we are faced with this spring. If all things go well, we are going to have a two-week season, then regional and then state for some of the sports."

Some baseball and softball teams in Minnesota were just playing their first games this week. And that was before parts of the state got hit again with more than a foot of snow Thursday.

Marty Maciaszek is a freelance columnist for the Daily Herald who can be reached at marty.maciaszek@gmail.com

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