Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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Activities Association tweaks summer contact rules

With winter and spring high school sports canceled due to the coronavirus, the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors took action last Thursday to increase the amount of time that athletes have for workouts in the summer.

While the board met in person, member schools and the public could monitor the meeting via the internet.

This year’s summer contact period was approved at a special May meeting to run from June 1 until July 31. Approved during the special meeting was a detailed three-phase plan for running workouts while trying to avoid coronavirus infections.

SDHSAA rules call for a moratorium on summer workouts from July 1 through July 7 to accommodate family vacations centered on the Independence Day holiday.

SDHSAA Chairman Moe Ruesink of Sioux Valley said he wanted to shorten the moratorium period to “ease the pain of the end of winter and spring sports.” He suggested changing the moratorium for only this year to July 3 through July 5.

Board member Randy Soma of Brookings said the change would add time for more workouts but make life difficult for school districts.

“We have all kinds of stuff that goes on in that moratorium,” Soma said, noting that this year the time would also be used for cleaning facilities before workouts start again.

“This time was put in for a break for our student-athletes and for families,” said board member Craig Cassens of Faulkton.

Board member Brian Maher said school districts could enforce a stricter moratorium than the one proposed by Ruesink, but he acknowledged that it would come with some difficulty.

“We do put schools in a bind when you say, ‘You don’t have to follow this; you can be more restrictive,’” Maher said.

The motion to shorten the moratorium also included lengthening the summer contact period by two days to include Aug. 1 and 2, a Saturday and Sunday. SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos said some schools had asked about the possibility of athletes taking part in a national track meet planned for Sioux Falls that weekend.

Other schools asked about sending athletes to a national golf tournament in North Carolina. South Dakota athletes would not be allowed to compete unless there was a change to the summer contact rules.

The board approved the changes on a vote of 5-4.