SECAUCUS, NJ - You most likely won’t be seeing spring football in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference any time soon, if NJIC Executive Director Stan Fryczynski’s reaction is in sync with the athletic directors and football coaches of the league. It usually is.
Let’s catch up, the Football Super Conference, led by new Executive Director Rich Hansen, has a proposal into the NJSIAA that would give high schools the option to practice in April and/or May up to 14 times in full pads. Seven-on-seven contests would remain for June, with strength and conditioning in July before coming back in early August for camp as it is now.
It is a model that copies the NCAA's spring football model and the NFL's off-season workout regiments. Texas and Florida are two states that also allow spring football. (Both states, however, have a different school calendar than NJ, starting before Labor Day.)
Fryczynski disagrees, and does not feel that the schools that make up the conference would want to go to this model. One is, that while schools in the Football Super Conference are larger larger schools, and do not have the multi-sport players that the NJIC does. This model would create a huge disruption to the spring sports schedule. Three sport athletes, common at NJIC schools, would either not participate in spring football, or not participate in their spring sport.
Fryczynski answered some questions on his views on the proposal.
Has the NJIC reached out it to its membership on the proposal? No we haven't - we do not have our first general membership meeting until September 25th.
Doesn't the proposal seem counter to the NJSIAA's recent push to have kids get away from specialization and play multiple sports? Yes, it certainly does. Not only the NJSIAA, but countless number of collegiate and professional athletes have attributed their forward success to the disciplines involved by playing in multiple sports.
As an educator, an active coach, a high school athletic administrator - every part of my professional profile feels the same about this topic. Athletics is an extension of education. It was meant to enlighten and offer young people many different opportunities. Other important things such as self discipline, time management, teamwork, developing friendships and bonding, and so much more. To this day, I also tell my athletes every season before we start that they are here to have fun. It is the single most important reason they should be here. If they take that approach, then it all falls into place. It is not about joining simply to build your college resume and make it look better
For the NJIC, specifically, because of the size of schools, would this not hurt the other spring sports?
Everyone is most likely going to say this will damage small school programs, but it is my strong belief it will do as much harm to successful large schools who have learned to share and develop multi-sport athletes. It is mind boggling to go back in sports history and see how many people of all professions played two or three sports. People ultimately go back and talk about their past, and they eventually will touch upon the great experiences gained while being involved in a number of different activities while in high school.
Sports specialization already is ruining the true value of what middle school and high school sports is supposed to be about. Passing legislation and tipping those scales even more, will seriously hurt spring sports.
I doubt there would be many NJIC schools, if any, that would adopt a spring training period even if passed. Knowing the structure and philosophy of our conference and the present mindset, I would safely assume they feel the same way I do. I also believe our communities share in the history of their high school sports programs and have equally as much pride in their programs as we do on the conference level.
Most schools have a mini camp in June and then go to weight room and conditioning until they start up official practices in August. I think the majority likes it that way and would not wish to change it. If it isn't broken, don't go fixing it.
As far as additional hitting taking place: The NJSIAA can pass all the legislation they want regarding this specialized period of training, but there is no one to supervise and police it. It is up to each school to police themselves. So, the answer is yes. if I were a parent - I would be very concerned and pay close attention to what my child's coach is doing at these practices and how much the school administration is overseeing it. It is not an accident that many school systems are hanging on by a thread with football programs. The sport has been subjected to much scrutiny because of NFL publicity on concussions and CTE, as well as various on-field fatalities on college practice fields.
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