CHARLESTON, W.Va. – State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jim Phares said a proposal to expanding summertime sports practices can keep athletes out of trouble, but he understands that may come with the risk of increased injury.
“I’m not going to answer it just as a state superintendent, but also as a former teacher, a former coach, former high school principal and a former local superintendent,” told MetroNews Thursday during a break in the state Board of Education meeting in Charleston.
During his education career Phares coached football, basketball and tennis. He said there are pros and cons of adding additional summer weeks to the practice schedule.
Currently high school sports teams have a three-week window to practice in the summer. The proposal, approved this week by the Secondary Schools Activities Commission, would expand that period throughout most of the summer.
Lending structure to a teenager’s summer can be beneficial, Phares said.
“I know from my experience as a coach, if you can keep them busy they weren’t out doing thing they ought not be doing,” he said.
The superintendent also said he understands the concerns of parents about those extra practices from a health standpoint.
“I can also understand that there can be some research out there that they could have increased injury. They could have some other types of debilitating side effects of just being in practice all the time,” Phares said.
Even though the SSAC Board of Control has approved the change, the final decision lies with the state Board of Education. Phares predicted a very lively discussion.
“I don’t see this as something that’s going to bypass without some type of controversy or at least some discussion and dialog on both sides,” Phares said.
The SSAC proposal would not go into effect until the summer of 2015.