June 27, 2003 at 11:56 a.m.
“It’s a fine line,” remarked Bill Weiss, Chisago Lakes football head coach. “You feel like you should do something because you know your competition is doing it.”
Joel Swanson, head football coach for North Branch agrees.
“I know a lot of coaches out there are running practices three days a week this whole summer,” said Swanson. “Sometimes you feel like in order to stay competitive, you have to be doing that to, but personally, I don’t agree with that philosophy.”
Swanson is not alone. As a matter of fact, most local coaches agree that this rule is doing more harm than good. With the opening day of football practice now less than two months away, Chisago Lakes and North Branch both wrapped up a three day mini-camp last week. Although both programs are actively involved in a weight lifting program this summer, besides a passing league that the Vikings are apart of, their summer football commitment stops there.
“Its a double-edged sword,” commented Weiss. “The extra practices give you the opportunity to work extra with kids and experiment with some things but there is also a real danger of going over board. I know some teams in our section are doing that, but I don’t think it’s an issue here.”
‘There are some benefits as far as experimenting and trying some guys at different spots before the season even starts but you always run the risk of going overboard,” commented Swanson. “I want to encourage kids to be kids. I want them to go out for more than one sport and these days, if you have a coach who demands everything on these kids, how can they do it all?”
The debate is on going. Skip Peltier, Associate Director for the Minnesota State High School League points out that although the rule is re-evaluated every year, the feedback has been very positive from coaches and players from around the state.
“There are pro’s and con’s with it certainly but the feedback has been pretty positive,” said Peltier. “The good sides of it are that coaches can work with the kids out of season and kids can get an opportunity to participate in a sport in the summer. The general response from everyone has been pretty positive.”
At least for now. While the Minnesota State High School League hopes for cooperation, they admit that a system for policing the rule doesn’t exist. They are choosing to leave that up to the schools.
“Technically, I think the only system we have in place to police things is the belief that all schools should respect the integrity of the sports and their kids. We feel that each school ethically knows what is right and what is wrong,” stated Peltier. “Do we have a policing mechanism in place? No we don’t. We depend on the schools to do the policing. Do we have violations? Sure we do. I’m sure there are schools that require kids to stay longer or work harder than what we feel is appropriate, but if that happens, we depend on the kids and their parents to report it.”
So what if the rule is re-evaluated? Would it pass? The Minnesota State High School League coaching association can make a motion to remove a Minnesota State High School League rule. If that happens, it all comes down to a vote.
“I’m mixed,” remarked Weiss. “In some ways as a coach, it’s increased my work load, but if you don’t do it, you feel like you’re getting behind your competition so you have to find a balance. If it came to a vote, I don’t think I would vote for it.”
“I think if the kids want to take it upon themselves, I think that’s always good and I keep my fingers out of it,” remarked Swanson. “Some kids step up and become leaders on their own without being required to. If they get burnt out too early, it’s not going to be good for anyone.”