SMAC rule needs to be revised ASAP

  • Fenton fans try to stay dry as the Bison face Bartlett in varsity football at Millennium Field in Streamwood on Friday night.

      Fenton fans try to stay dry as the Bison face Bartlett in varsity football at Millennium Field in Streamwood on Friday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

Updated 10/1/2019 8:18 PM

How was your weekend?

I know ... bad joke. The storms obviously made things miserable for everyone involved with prep football.


But lingering in the puddles is a glaring mystery.

This week's Eyes on Five looks at a massive contradiction in a new rule that must be changed.

1. SMAC:

In March the IHSA Board of Directors tweaked and approved recommendations from the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee concerning weekly player limitations in football.

Players can't play in more than two games in one week and can't play on consecutive days. They also can't participate in "live contact/thud" in practice the day before or after playing in a game.

Here's the kicker: "One play in a game equals a game played."

That means anyone who goes in for just one special teams play at the end of a 40-0 blowout can't play in a junior varsity game the next day. The rule has caused disruption in the scheduling of JV games and even the cancellation of many JV games.

It's jolted practice weeks and the way teams prepare for upcoming games. Most JV games are now on Monday instead of Saturday, meaning practice on Monday and Tuesday is drastically different from years past.

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But the rule goes beyond inconvenience.

2. The exception:

Oddly, among the exceptions to the SMAC player limitation rule is weather.

"If a player plays in a game that is stopped due to weather or other circumstances and completed the next day, the player can participate in the resumed game the following day. This is allowed because the exposure is considered not equivalent to a full game being played the night before."

OK ... do you see where this is leading?

Several DuPage County games started on Friday night, only to be postponed until Saturday due to the constant lightning. Glenbard South played Larkin into the fourth quarter on Friday, postponed for 16 hours and finished the final 10-plus minutes on Saturday morning.

The IHSA somehow deems that allowable and safe. Safer than a player going in for one play in a blowout and then competing in a JV game the next day.

This is where we have a problem.

3. Contradiction in action:

How does a rule shift from "one play in a game equals a game played" to "the exposure is considered not equivalent to a full game being played the night before ..." because of weather?


Either playing on consecutive days is safe or it isn't. If the IHSA decides it's unsafe, how does it justify -- in the same rule -- allowing exceptions because of weather?

Does "exposure" cease to exist in a thunderstorm?

Throughout the season I've spoken with many coaches who are furious about this new player limitation rule, and with good reason. If we can't trust the coaches and school administrators to keep players safe, then why allow the games at all?

It's not like the IHSA has investigators running around to make sure football teams are adhering to the player limitation rules. So it still boils down to trust.

The SMAC player limitation rules have good intentions, but the execution is poor at best.

4. Compromise, please:

Let's find room for compromise next season.

"One play in a game equals one game played" is nonsense. It's even more nonsense when combined with the weather exception. And there's another exception for equipment failure or injury that requires a one-play substitution.

End the contradictions and meet in the middle on the limitations.

Make it a reasonable number of plays so backups can get in for at least special teams action and in blowouts. Make it reasonable so they can still come back after Friday night and play in a Saturday junior varsity game.

Striving to make the sport safer is laudable, but this isn't the way to accomplish it.

5. Stat time:

Hinsdale continues to get the better of Downers Grove on the football field.

Last weekend Hinsdale Central beat Downers Grove North for the 13th straight year to keep the Old Oaken Bucket while Hinsdale South downed Downers Grove South to keep The Cannon for the third straight season and for the fifth time in six years.

Twitter: @kevin_schmit

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