Did you hear about that head football coach from Columbia County in handcuffs recently?
Which one? All of them. For an entire week.
Yes, our football coaches were once again handcuffed (figuratively, of course) the week before school started. They found themselves in the middle of a red-tape dilemma, stuck between a rock and a hot place.
Believe it or not, it's not all the heat's fault.
Sneaking up on us like an 800-pound gorilla in a yellow polka dot dress, the heat descended on Columbia County the week before school started. According to the Columbia County Board of Education's heat index policy, practices can't take place with a heat index over 100 F.
Believe it or not, that policy isn't all that strict compared to some other counties. In fact, it's a fairly easy policy to deal with as long as you plan it right. It's as simple as scheduling practices at, say, 8 or 9 in the morning. The heat isn't so bad then.
But wait. If that's such an easy solution, why weren't any football teams practicing during the morning hours to beat the heat during the week before school started? You know, that crucial first week of full-contact practices when essential positioning, coaching and evaluating takes place in preparation for a full season.
Bring in the handcuffs. And coaches, you have the right to remain silent.
A countywide policy requires all teachers to be in their classrooms the week before school starts for "planning." At least half of a high school football team's coaching staff is made up of teachers. With those assistant coaches stuck in classrooms, no practices could take place.
Even though those assistant coaches are paid by the school to coach, they can't leave their classroom to hit the football field during those morning hours.
No assistant coaches, no morning practice. No sudden ice age, no afternoon practice. That's where the handcuffs led our football coaches - to practices that start at 8:30 p.m., end, at the earliest, at 10:30 p.m. and, by the time equipment is put up, players leave and the locker room is locked, it's midnight before the coaching staff gets home. That's all for approximately two hours of practice per day.
Meanwhile, in the land of common sense (Statesboro, Ga.) the Blue Devils were running two-a-day practices with twice the reps, twice the workouts and twice the production of our teams. And we expect our boys to compete with them in the region.
This whole mess could be avoided if assistant coaches were allowed to assistant coach. That week of planning is a great idea. Teachers need that time. We're in a county where academics comes first, right where it should.
But how much would academics suffer if four or five assistant coaches (most of whom are physical education teachers) missed out on two hours of planning per day for one week? I bet they'd manage to get their planning done on their own time, if given the option.
What hurts the most is these assistant coaches and head coaches sit handcuffed to their desks, they can still look out the window and see 150 or more band kids practicing with the board of education's full blessing (ah, the difference between co-curricular and extracurricular).
So there's your problem. It happens every year. Head coaches appeal to their principals, and the handcuffs are slapped on their wrists for the week. The football kids are kept off the practice field until its fully dark, while their out-of-county opponents gain precious hours of prep time.
Sometimes it's not enough to support your team only on Friday nights.
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