AL HAMNIK: IHSAA not yet ready to embrace a balanced calendar

2013-07-16T16:45:00Z 2013-09-05T00:10:05Z AL HAMNIK: IHSAA not yet ready to embrace a balanced calendarAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 16, 2013 4:45 pm  • 

Change is coming. No one knows for sure, but it's moving this way, like a very slow freight train.

State educators call it a "balanced calendar" in which the school year is basically that -- a full year -- with students going for nine weeks, having two weeks off, then going for another nine weeks, etc., etc.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association and Commissioner Bobby Cox are closely monitoring this new concept, with only a smattering of schools having moved away from the traditional calendar.

It is growing in popularity, however.

"Many school corporations are looking at this as a better way to deliver content and improve retention," Cox said. "So, from an academic prospective, I think it has merit."

But in regard to prep sports, hold that thought.

"Athletically, I've told a lot of people that summer is on the endangered species list," Cox said. "There's hardly anything left of summer. Everybody's coaching in the summer with activities like 7-on-7 in football, AAU basketball, and other team events.

"As more and more schools embrace the balanced calendar, it will cause the association to look at how our seasons are delineated within our participation rule."

At the moment, a majority of Indiana schools are following the traditional calendar, though there are advantages and disadvantages in both.

With a balanced calendar, the number of summer football two-a-days would be significantly trimmed as would a team's preparation for the tournament series.

"Scheduling would be a problem because you have to have wholesale changes -- and then we have added considerations in the tournament series because of the state championship venues," Cox said.

"We've been able to secure Thanksgiving weekend (for football) for the last 20 years. If we start monkeying around with our state championship dates, that could create some real issues for us."

Cox called the current balanced calendar "sporadic" through the state, though more popular in central Indiana because of its abundance of schools.

But could it work in rural areas where farming and 4-H are woven into the community's fabric?

And what about summer jobs for kids who need to work  to help their families?

I'll say this. High school coaches would favor the balanced calendar as a means for eliminating the obtrusive nature and distraction of summer AAU.

"I just think it's a mixed bag," Cox said. "Right now it's a little early to make any determinations about which way is best. I think, locally, people are figuring that out on their own."

If schools went to year-round, a fascinating concept regardless of your own personal feelings, it would likely take two years before athletic scheduling throughout the state could be adjusted, according to Cox.

 Academically, it's a win-win situation. That should be the bottom line.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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