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Bill to begin WCPS fall sports practices sooner stalls in Maryland General Assembly

March 28, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS — A Washington County delegation bill that would allow a county board of education to begin fall high school sports practice season two weeks earlier than the date set by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association remains stalled in the Maryland General Assembly and will not make any further progress.

The MPSSAA had objections to the bill because it wasn’t fair or equitable, said Executive Director Ned Sparks on Thursday.

Instead, the association has proposed that fall sports teams be allowed to begin their practice season three days early this year.

The MPSSAA Board of Control already has voted in favor of the three-day measure.

But the measure will have to be voted on by the Maryland State Department of Education by July to take effect by the beginning of the school year.

“We believe our proposal is the right way to go about it,” Sparks said.

The delegation bill was supported by Washington County Public Schools, and Wayne Ridenour, a Washington County School Board member, testified in favor of the bill at a House committee hearing in February.

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“They (the house committee) feel that the movement of the MPSSAA to additional three days is the accommodation they are willing to settle for now,” said Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington.

A new state heat-acclimatization law delays full contact football practice until the sixth day of practice and supporters of the bill have said previously that they are worried whether teams have received enough practice when it comes to playing out-of-state teams early in the season.

Currently, according to MPSSAA rules, the first day of fall sports practice is set as the sixth Saturday following the first full week of July. Teams have up to 20 days to practice before their first regular-season contest.

“This measure will better prepare student athletes to avoid possible injury resulting from inadequate conditioning and instruction; further, more practice time will be afforded the student athletes in those sports where facility space and use time is limited,” according to written testimony filed in support of the bill by Washington County Public Schools.

The Maryland State Department of Education and the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland opposed the bill.

“Under the proposed bill, if one local school system were to begin fall practice earlier, others would be forced to consider schedule changes as well,” says testimony filed against the bill by the MSDE.

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