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Do the right thing, NCHSAA

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The North Carolina High School Athletic Association sent a memo to athletic directors at its member schools Wednesday, addressing for the first time what should be done about the missing practice time and games caused by Hurricane Florence.

Most schools in eastern North Carolina didn’t play last week and many won’t play this week, including some conference games. The NCHSAA, in the memo issue by Tra Waters, the assistant commissioner for sports and championships, instituted a mandatory three-day minimum for football teams to practice if they have missed five or more consecutive school days.

That’s a common-sense order that, as the memo says, will “re-acclimatize the student-athletes to wearing equipment.” 

The problem with that, however, means that some schools — the ones in places with water still covering the ground — are probably going to have a hard time practicing this week or even next. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that some schools in the areas hardest hit by Florence won’t be in session next week either.

The memo says that “the NCHSAA is studying ways to adjust the playoffs and will make recommendations to the Board of Directors no later than September 30, 2018.”

The real kicker in this memo comes next.

“As you reschedule football contests, you should attempt to play during your bye week if possible.  If that date does not work, you should schedule the game for the next available Monday or Tuesday in accordance with NCHSAA Handbook policy 2.2.8.”

A lot of schools have already filled their open week with the first missed game. The NCHSAA suggestion means that teams will play three games in eight days if they try to sandwich in a game on a Monday or Tuesday. Frankly, the suggestion was a shock. It’s unsafe to send kids onto the field three times in such a short span.

I have to ask: Who does that decision benefit and how?

Here’s an idea, NCHSAA. Do what you did in 2016 after Hurricane Matthew and add a week to the season. If it makes you uncomfortable to rearrange the state championship schedule, then shorten the playoffs by a week. It will cost you money but players’ safety is more valuable.

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