Last fall, the AAA member schools put to vote a mandatory two-week "dead period" for Arkansas high schools. Although aimed at football and probably a little at basketball, this new rule prohibits all coaches, regardless of sport, from being involved in any type of activity with their players. It also requires all school athletic facilities to be closed.
This is taken directly from the AAA handbook and their May newsletter:
June 15-28, 2008: Athletic Dead Period prohibits any coach from engaging in any type of activity involving student athletes during AAA calendar weeks #51 and #52 for the purpose of practice, training, weight lifting, competition, or travel, including camps (ex: team camps, 7-on-7, etc.). It requires that school athletic facilities be closed during this period.
We will try to answer the "why" of this rule and some effects, then leave you to comment with your thoughts. Basically, the original intent of the proposer of this rule had little to do with players. The thought is that Arkansas high school football has become such a business of not just production, but of perception as well. Some coaches have had their kids working out, attending team camps, or 7-on-7 practices, league games, or tournaments every week in the summer all the way up to fall practice. If an opposing coach doesn't have his players up as much as the other guy, then the perception may be that he doesn't care as much or isn't as good of a coach. In order to give all coaches a mandatory break, the dead period was proposed to the AAA as the last week in June and the first week in July (Weeks #52 and #1 for the AAA calendar).
Before putting the rule to a vote by its member schools, it is our understanding that the AAA Board slightly tweaked or convinced the proposers (not sure how all that actually works) to tweak this to week #51 and #52 so they could get more coaches in attendance for All-Star week and the coaching clinics which is held during week #51 (nice vacation, huh?). So when it came to the member voting body, it appeared as #51 and #52.
I'm sure in the minds of the voters of this rule that they probably were thinking more about the well-being of the student-athletes and not necessarily about the coaches. And let's be honest, these are 14-18 year old kids, and I do think that the concept of this rule and the AAA member voting body had their best interest in mind in passing this by an overwhelming majority.
Since this is a site dedicated to 7-on-7 football, we want to share how this rule has effected this specifically. Last year, there were basically eight weekends to have 7-on-7 tournaments. For the past three years, there have been four or five tournaments involving more than 12 teams. The Sonic Air Raid has been the first weekend in June, the Shootout of the South was the third weekend in June, Fountain Lake's Tournament was the first Saturday after July 4th, The FCA State Tournament was the second-to-last weekend before fall practice (a.k.a Two-A-Days for some), and the Mustang Mountain 7-on-7 fluctuated their dates depending on when they could best fit it in.
With the new dead period, and with July 4th falling on a Friday this year, this year's tournaments have been reduced to 5 dates: June 7 and 14, and July 12, 19, and 26. One other thing to contend with for these schools wanting to host or participate is the Razorback Senior Camp, which is held July 19. This means that schools will have to make the most out of their leagues or the few tournaments available to them.
Please give us your thoughts on the dead period. It's not going to go away, so please tell us if you like it or not. What you would do to improve it? What do you think some schools or sports will try to do to circumvent this rule? How will this affect AAU basketball or summer baseball teams that have high school coaches as part of the coaching staff?