The Florida High School Athletic Association does little to regulate summer conditioning. Other than mandating proper paperwork and equipment, the state’s governing body for high school sports leaves workout schedules up to districts and private schools to decide.
That could change during the FHSAA board of directors video conference meeting, scheduled for Tuesday at 9 a.m. Among the topics is a more uniform policy regarding summer conditioning.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, school districts have been cautious about when to allow students back on campus to start those workouts. Two area counties, Pinellas and Hillsborough, are starting June 15. Hernando has a tentative plan for the same date. Pasco is waiting until July 1.
Many private schools, especially in Pinellas County, have already conducted summer conditioning. Keswick Christian’s first workout was on June 1. Admiral Farragut, Calvary Christian and Clearwater Central Catholic all started on Monday.
The disparity has angered some public school coaches, particularly those whose districts or regular season schedules include private schools or teams in other counties.
For other parts of the state, the wait is even longer. Broward and Dade County public schools are still off limit to students because they are dealing with so many outbreaks of COVID-19.
The lack of any state guidelines also drew criticism last summer when Middleton incoming freshman Hezekiah B. Walters collapsed and died during a conditioning session with the football program in June of 2019. The family recently reached an agreement with the Hillsborough County school district on a $1-million settlement that has been recommended for approval at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
There are four options the FHSAA board of directors will discuss. One is to keep the current summer policy in place. Others deal with setting dates or tweaking language within the policy. The most extreme is forbidding any summer conditioning.
Among the other topics is a recommended policy to change the limits on football participation from one game to six quarters per week. That would allow players to potentially play in junior varsity and varsity games in the same week.
Football programs would need a waiver to apply the rule and would have until the Monday of the third week in the regular season to submit one. A program’s history and roster size would factor into the decision for each waiver.
Part of the reason for recommending the change is to have more development at the junior varsity level. Many schools in the state struggle to field a junior varsity program because they need to fill out a varsity roster.