Dealing with a ‘cruel’ April: chief of MSHSL sends schools some suggestions

Editor’s note: Dave Stead, director of the Minnesota State High School League, addressed the issues facing spring teams due to the lingering winter in this memo to schools, condensed by the Star News.

by Dave Stead, MSHSL director

We’ve been experiencing a really cruel April Fool’s joke for far too long, and it’s getting to all of us.  I know we were spoiled last year, but at some point in time the sun will shine for more than a couple of minutes, the snow will melt, and our spring athletes will have some outside time.

We encourage each school to do everything possible to provide safe conditions for athletes. Remember, you don’t have to play all of the games allowed for your sport. … And be sure to keep school time and academics as the highest priority.

Zimmerman baseball players (who’ve had 10 games called off) skipped through an agility drill Tuesday. Coach Matt Kraus said he’s giving them something different every day, to deal with the boredom, and was taking them to the movie “42” on Thursday. Front to back are Riley Graham, Trig Olson, Jacob Crestik,  Nate Wiley, Patrick Liedl. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Zimmerman baseball players (who’ve had 10 games called off) skipped through an agility drill Tuesday. Coach Matt Kraus said he’s giving them something different every day, to deal with the boredom, and was taking them to the movie “42” on Thursday. Front to back are Riley Graham, Trig Olson, Jacob Crestik, Nate Wiley, Patrick Liedl. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Our staff has provided a few ideas. You may already have thought of many of the items below:

• Teams are allowed to play until the end of the season (the final day of the state tournament in that sport) even if your team is eliminated from the tournament. … These extra days provide a great opportunity for you to work with your younger players who will be returning next year.

• Change your dual contests to triangular or quadrangulars to allow your players to compete against more teams.  In golf, that may mean 9-hole matches rather than 18 or inviting twice as many teams to an invitational and only play 9 holes so that everyone has a chance to compete.

•  Be sure to use every available Saturday.  We know many people don’t like to do that, but given the end of the school year and the testing schedule, this is one of the best options you have.

• Double headers in baseball and softball may be a great option. The NFHS has agreed to let us play 5- or 6-inning doubleheaders. Or  you can schedule two 7-inning games, play the first 7 inning game and do your best to complete the second game. The second game … can be considered a regulation game if 4 1/2 or 5 innings have been completed.

• Conference play could be a single round rather than a double round.  You would still have a conference champion and be able to schedule non-conference games.

• Compress the section tournament format … don’t stretch out the playoff’s.  That change by the Region Committee will allow schools to have additional dates in May and early June to play games that have been lost this spring.

• You have to play when and where the field is ready, especially for lacrosse,  baseball and softball, rather than wait for home games.

• Track-and-field meets are considered official even when field events, such as the discus, cannot be conducted due to the condition of the venue. Mutual agreement must be reached prior to the start of the meet and no team points will be awarded for those events that cannot be conducted. (Rule 2-1-6).

Questions have been asked about moving the state tournament dates farther into June.
Given the number of changes that would need to be addressed at subsection, section and state tournament sites, as well as family plans, summer jobs, camps and clinics and other summer activities that would be conflicted, it doesn’t seem as if that’s an option that could realistically be considered.

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