It doesn't appear the majority of the state's high school football coaches are in any hurry to move up the high school football season.
A proposal to start the the high school football season one week earlier, beginning with the 2016-18 reclassification cycle, is scheduled to go before the governing body of the Arkansas Activities Association's during its annual meeting Wednesday at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.
The AAA's 20-man board of directors came up with proposed change at its annual summer workshop in North Little Rock on June 13 and attached a do-pass recommendation to it.
High school coaches are making it clear they are not in favor of the idea hatched by the board of directors, a group that includes 18 district superintendents.
"It's something we've all been talking about," said North Little Rock Coach Brad Bolding, who serves on the board of the Arkansas Football Coaches Association. "I can't find anybody who will vote for this."
Chief among the concerns expressed by a number of coaches interviewed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is the belief that moving up the first week of the season would put athletes at risk because they would be forced to practice and play in higher temperatures.
If the proposal passes, the first regular-season games would be played the week of Aug. 22, 2016. In comparison, the first regular-season games this season will be played Sept. 1.
It isn't uncommon for temperatures to reach the mid to high 90s in August, and sometimes reach as high as 100 or above. Coaches said asking players compete in such conditions is dangerous.
"It's a terrible idea," Jonesboro Coach Randy Coleman said. "It's a poor decision. If the best interest is for the kids, don't move it up to where it's going to be hotter. ... It's foolish."
Russellville Coach Jeff Holt expressed similar concerns.
"You like to play some of your games in cool weather where football is supposed to be played," Holt said. "We're all worried about heat illness and all that, but we're going to move up games? I don't think we're thinking right."
Coaches also expressed concern that the proposal was more of a reaction to last season's state playoffs, which were pushed back one week because of concerns about winter weather.
Three state championship games -- Class 7A (Dec. 13), Class 6A (Dec. 14) and Class 5A (Dec. 14) -- were moved back, along with a total of six semifinal games in Classes 4A, 3A and 2A. That also led to the finals in Class 4A (Dec. 20), Class 3A (Dec. 21) and Class 2A (Dec. 21) to be moved back an extra week as well.
It marked the first time the AAA had postponed championship games because of weather issues.
"That's happened once in however long," Pulaski Academy Coach Kevin Kelley said. "I don't think you make decisions based on that. If it happens three or four times the next five years, maybe you take a look at it.
"I think it's set up great. The AAA has had a good format the way we've done it."
.Another concern is that the first weekend of the state championship games would be held on the Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium. In 2016, that would be Nov. 25-26.
"I think it's a bad idea on their part, attendance-wise, for the state championships if they end up on Thanksgiving weekend," Kelley said. "That's probably going to hurt their attendance some, which is bad for the kids, bad for the AAA revenue-wise and all that."
Bentonville Coach Barry Lunney Sr. was incredulous over the possibility of playing a state championship game on a holiday weekend that typically features the lowest gates of the state playoffs and on a day when a state championship game would end up being played on the same day as an Arkansas Razorbacks game.
"Why do we want to play a state championship game on Thanksgiving weekend?" Lunney said. "Arkansas is going to play Missouri on the same day as a state championship game. You're going to go head-to-head with the university. It's going to cut down the crowd. I'm not getting down with that.
"Playing in December is always special. You're the only show in town that weekend."
Kelley said he still waiting to hear the reasoning behind the proposal to move up the season.
"When you come out with a proposal like this, I want to know exactly why did we come up with this proposal?" he said. "What is the main purpose of it? I'm sure there's several elements to it. If there's somebody that comes out and says why it's there, then maybe we can make sense of it.
"Is it because of the weather last year? I don't think you make emotional decisions. This one seems a little bit emotional in the whole scheme of things."
Sports on 08/03/2014
Print Headline: Coaches don’t like early start proposal