The era of offseason practices for high school sports may be coming to a close in Virginia, as the Virginia High School League weighs a proposal that would eliminate them.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the proposal, submitted to the VHSL’s executive committee, outlines the negative effects of year-round practices. The report suggests that coaches and student-athletes are being stretched too thin, and that high schools are hiring coaches from outside the school system who aren’t able to discipline their kids, leading to increased fights and ejections.
The VHSL began allowing year-round or nearly-year-round practice in 2011, with the rationale that if a student-athlete wants to focus on their sport, they’ll do so whether or not it’s with their high school. Travel teams and private coaches offer student-athletes the option to play their sport year-round. Since then, many programs in the state have taken advantage of year-round practices in some form or another, especially for football.
While the proposal being considered by the VHSL doesn’t specifically mention concerns about single-sport specialization, those concerns exist.
VHSL spokesperson Mike McCall told the Times-Dispatch that there isn’t any factual data that links offseason practices to increases in either injuries or ejections.
“Out of season practice in this proposal is about the lack of coaches in the building, which is putting a strain on the coaches,” he told the Times-Dispatch.
If the proposal is approved, offseason practices would be banned, but weight lifting and conditioning workouts would still be allowed to continue.