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Opinion: It’s time for the state of Ohio to allow spring practice for high school football

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California, Texas, Florida and Ohio.

These four states are synonymous with historically dominant high school football, but three have a leg up on the other: Ohio is the only state out of the group that does not allow spring practices for high school football teams. It is time for that to change.

As someone who played high school football in Ohio and has seen the game through the eyes of a coach, I know spring practice could be more than beneficial for the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

I understand the health of the players is a concern, but even allowing non-contact practices at this time of year would help players get acclimated to a playbook and to each other.

There is no arguing that California, Texas and Florida produce some of the best, if not the best, pro prospects coming out of college and I have to believe the extra practices have something to do with it.

If Ohio wants to be a part of that conversation, adding just 10-15 spring practices could give it the boost it needs.

California allows 10 practices, Texas allows 15, and Florida allows 20 practices while Ohio high school football players are either playing another sport or living in the weight room.

According to multiple studies, Ohio ranked fifth in players born in the respective states behind California (224), Florida (186), Texas (147) and Georgia (91) that are currently in the NFL with 78.

If you were wondering, Georgia also allows spring practice.

I’m not saying that if Ohio allowed spring practice it would instantly produce more NFL players, but I am saying it would give more players a chance to shine on the field and get noticed.

It would also give coaches — especially incoming coaches — a chance to see what their new team is capable of and develop a depth chart going into summer practice.

I never had a chance of playing on the varsity squad as a sophomore in high school, but I was behind the eight-ball to begin with when I had to learn an entirely new playbook in just weeks before two-a-day sessions began in August.

This is the dilemma that high school football players all over Ohio have to deal with, and if there is a player who is talented enough to get varsity time as a sophomore or even as a freshman, spring practice would get them ready to make an impact in the fall.

For now, Ohio high school coaches will need to continue to prepare their teams as best they can in the weight room in the spring while other coaches in the football hotbeds are allowed to blow their whistles on the field and install their playbooks.

Make the change, OHSAA. It’s for the kids.

4 comments

  1. Spring football in high school is a terrible idea. You assume that the purpose of high sport is to prepare students for the next level. Nothing could be farther from the truth. High school sports are first and foremost about teaching young people all kinds of good lessons and about physical fitness. Spring football would also have a negative effect on other spring sports and other spring extracurriculars such as the spring musical. Further, some of those kids get jobs in the spring and you know there will be pressure to attend spring practices. Last, the last thing public education needs is yet more emphasis on sports. I spent 35 years in public education and coached football for 15 of them, and I dabbled a bit in basketball and track. High school sports can be wonderful educational tool. But they are already overemphasized. Spring football might have a small benefit for the very few who go on to play college football, but even that is doubtful. For the vast majority of young men, leave spring football out of their lives.

  2. I understand the concern for other sports, but we must also be conscientious toward our commitment to each individual student in our promise to permit them to be the best they can be in whatever there endevour and choice might be. It can not be the politics of the other spring sport coaches. If it is the decision of the athlete to concentrate on football, to place himself in a better position to compete against similar students from Georgia or Texas; who are we to foreclose that student from making this decision for himself. In Ohio we see tennis and soccer be played on a year-round basis. In fact tennis players play tournaments throughout the year, and no one objects. If a young women wishes to be the best she can be plating the violin, she surely would be permitted, if not encouraged, to do so in order to be the best she can be. Basketball players play AAU in the off season. —-Why should other spring sport coaches be permitted to hold these young men captive from pursuing excellence. — As far as safety in concerned, this would be quite easy to regulate, as to contact, pads, etc.

  3. Without spring ball kids have to play club ball varsity and god knows that’s terrible.

    And what would Bert say about this? He’s already against the no huddle, imagine the karma kaniption that would ensue. And how would the SEC keep dominance with Yanked schools having spring ball?!

    Grega is the kind of guy who advocates for an expanded NCAA playoff

  4. Although having spring practice has points, I remember in college thinking football has become a job year round. I understood and accepted the responsibility because I chose to play Division I college football. I don’t think the same thing would be fair for high school. Basically what would happen is you would have overzealous football coaches telling kids “I know you want to play baseball, (insert any other activity you choose) but if you want to have a chance to play next year I expect to see you after school ready to go. You are letting the team down if you don’t want to practice with us all of the time.” High school is it time to enjoy yourself and find out about yourself. Most who play high school football do it for the enjoyment of the game. What is nice about high school is the day after the last game that is it for football except obviously for lifting. Plus playing other sports increases your overall athletic experience and certainly helps in football. An example would be wrestling for an offensive or defensive lineman. I heard urban Meyer say somewhere the first thing he looks for in a recruit is if they play other sports. High school football is becoming like college with multimillion dollar stadiums and plastic grass. Having spring practice would just further accelerate The process of turning high school football from a fun sport to becoming a pressure job.let these kids have fun and experience other activities.

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