I got an email from a local high school coach late Wednesday night who said he was holding off on starting his team’s practices until next week, even though he could have started practice Tuesday under Utah High School Activities Association rules.
His reasoning? He felt his players deserved to have July off.
My reaction? He’s absolutely right.
The UHSAA may have gone too far with pushing everything up as much as it has this year. Tennis, cross country and golf teams were allowed to start practicing the day after Pioneer Day. They’re allowed to start playing for real next Tuesday. The football, volleyball and girls soccer teams aren’t far behind.
And, for what? Why is everything so early this year? I understand that there are six classifications now, and, as a result, that’s one more state tournament the UHSAA has to cram in for every sport. But is it really necessary to have the state tennis tournament in late September? Or the golf state tournament the first week in October, especially with it being in Hurricane, where it will still be 90 degrees?
You’re going to have sports seasons ending before some schools have their Homecoming week.
I know that weather can be a factor in the later part of the fall sports season. Certainly, you’d really rather not push things all the way to Thanksgiving, though in other states, high school football season stretches to a couple weeks before Christmas. But, what’s worse? Playing tennis or soccer in late October when it’s a little chilly, or in early August when it’s blazing hot?
And the weather’s not even the worst part of it. I think taking the word “vacation” out of “summer vacation” is unfair to the athletes, coaches and their families. It’s not fair to them to have their summer cut short. Granted, they’re doing it to play a sport they love, which takes some of the sting off of it, but it’s one more thing on top of offseason team camps and open gyms and weight-training sessions that have made high school sports take a turn for the serious.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. You’ll never catch him doing anything active when it’s 100 degrees outside. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.