State BOE must save prep sports

Be it a law regarding such a weighty matter as our health care or a proposal as seemingly trivial as allowing unlimited high school sports practices during the summer, the devil always shows up in the details.

That is certainly the case with the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission’s recently approved proposal to extend summer high school practice sessions in the Mountain State from the current three-week period to the entire summer -save for one week around the Fourth of July.

In attempting to sell the proposal, its proponents adamantly point out such practice sessions are “voluntary.” Yeah, right. We know better.

Say that the coach of sport A schedules practices for the week of July 21, the week loyal team member Johnny and his family previously had a family vacation scheduled. Johnny now is faced with a choice. Go on vacation with mom and dad and miss a week’s worth of workouts with his teammates knowing that full well, upon his return, his loyalty to the team and sport will be questioned, that is even if he is still a member of the team or elsemiss a family vacation and the lifelong memories that often are created spending leisure time with loved ones.

This proposal is wrong in so many ways. First it allows the coaches of every sport to conduct summer practices. So a three-sport athlete may well be subjected on a daily basis to attending three different practices. After all, if he or she attends two, their loyalty to the other program will come into play.

Plus, isn’t summer time supposed to be a vacation? A breather from a 10-month school year? Or a time to work from helping on the family farm to aiding mom and dad with the household expenses?

Once again, a ludicrous SSAC proposal is headed to the State Board of Education for final approval. In the past, the state BOE has displayed common sense and rejected ill-advised proposals such as this one. Let’s hope that once again is the case.

High school athletes aren’t professionals. They’re not getting paid. They are students first and athletes second -or at least that is the way it is supposed to work.

Plus, this proposal puts the rural schools at an even greater disadvantage than they now face.

Imagine you are an athlete in a one high-school county who lives an hour away from the school. You have practices at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. You can’t go back and forth. So you are committed from daylight to dark.

The proposal will cause a lot of problems and heartaches and accomplish virtually nothing but place an even greater emphasis on sports, not to mention a bigger strain on our already out-of-control athletic and facilities budgets.

The West Virginia Board of Education should adopt the slogan of the anti-drug campaign adopted by former First Lady Nancy Reagan and just say No. And then we’ll say Thanks.

Contact Dave Poe at