Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Kentucky Seeks Stronger Oversight of Middle School Sports
get rid of them altogether.
Because middle school athletics do not serve the same purpose as youth sports programs and are not as high-profile as high school sports programs, they often abide somewhere in, well, the middle. In fact, many communities have opted to |
On Monday, in an effort to quell concerns from medical professionals about the safety and health of middle school student-athletes in Kentucky, a committee created by the state legislature issued its preliminary recommendations for change — beginning with the possible creation of an organization similar to the Kentucky High School Athletics Association.
According to a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the 2012 Task Force on Middle School Interscholastic Athletics urges the Kentucky Board of Education, which has the sole authority to set regulations for school sports programs, to take a fresh look at how middle school athletics are governed and determine whether the current system needs an overhaul.
As reporter Beth Musgrave wrote, the preliminary recommendations to the board include:
• Requiring all middle school athletics teams to follow existing high school rules related to physical exams, medical coverage, concussions and practicing during extreme heat.
• Developing limits on the number of allowable contests during the school year.
• Exploring options to ensure student-athletes, coaches, schools and school boards have adequate insurance for athletic events.
• Requiring the tracking of injury and incident reports for all interscholastic sports activities.
• Adopting statewide eligibility rules to include age restrictions for athletes and restrictions for participation on high school teams by athletes enrolled below grade nine.
• Requiring all middle school coaches, paraprofessionals and volunteers to meet existing certification requirements, pass a criminal background check and complete all training required by the KHSAA for high school coaches.
Some of the proposals — which are based on studies of other states that have middle school athletic associations, conducted by the 17-member panel of Kentucky legislators, citizens, educators and coaches — could be addressed as early as February, sources say.
According to Musgrave, the issue of regulating and overseeing middle school sports has been discussed for decades in Kentucky and includes a failed plan to expand the KHSAA's scope in 1993 to include middle school athletics. But now, KHSAA commissioner and task force member Julian Tackett says the association has the resources to handle such oversight.
How are middle school sports overseen in your state or community?