9/18/12 – Commissioner’s Remarks to 2012 KHSAA Annual Meeting

September 18, 2012 Athletic Department Blog Updates

Commissioner’s Remarks
General Session, 2012 KHSAA Annual Meeting
 
When I sat down a few weeks ago and discussed the board’s evaluation from last year and plans for the coming year, I was again told to take those thoughts to the membership this morning, including plans for some operational changes and potential regulation changes.
 
As most of you know, my philosophy is perhaps a little different than some of my predecessors. I don’t want to study something to death, or be comfortable “the way it’s always been done”. I think for too long, as an association, we stood at the fork in the road and spent far too much time trying to decide which way to go. We will take those forks we choose, and then another if that doesn’t work out.
 
Last year was a smooth year operationally, although a down year financially. Our staff appreciates many of you taking time to share a kind word, encouragement, etc. For the first time in many years, we were significantly off budget in boys basketball, which long has been the bell cow of our financial existence. Representing more than 45% of our total income, this event is vital to our continued ability to provide services to our membership, and was down for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the economy, perhaps the matchups, perhaps the UK and UL conflicts, who really knows? But we will redouble our promotional efforts and try to stabilize that event without a change in ticket pricing. At least for now.
 
The rest of our events went smoothly, with a few even having record attendance. The addition of Bowling was a financial loss to the office, but the sponsor dollars from Ebonite certainly helped offset the cost and for that we are most appreciative.
 
Hopefully you continued to notice the pace of change. Blessed with a wonderful enthusiastic staff, who have basically grabbed hold and held on, and a cooperative and supportive Board of Control, we have moved forward at a quick pace to finish some long deferred items as well as get some of new ones done.
 
Other accomplishments last year –
The alignments in soccer, baseball, volleyball and softball were updated to align with the alignment in basketball. This was overwhelming feedback from the membership during the basketball realignment process, and this project allows growth room for the future. It is not without problems as there are many districts with very few teams. But the consistency of placement, the development and nurturing of natural rivalries, and the stable placement without much movement will help our schools in the long run.
We completed phase II of our online data projects, where the Title IX reports are now totally online as well as participation reports and rosters. Phase Iii will see even more synergy among our operations as we attempt to help our front line athletic administrators with their daily management burden of the athletic program. We learned some things there as well-
If you are not a computer expert, and don’t feel comfortable doing your data work, find someone who will do all sports for you. It could be an assistant in the building, or it could be a 9th grade student (who will be around a while). Get someone to help.
Another strong lesson we learned resulted in our recommendation that you and NOT your coaches, manage your roster data. It sounds all well and good to have them edit the data and keep their own rosters, until YOU have to spend days and weeks cleaning up the messes where similarly named players are in the overall roster.
We were able to work with members of the general assembly, Kentucky Athletic Trainers Society and other groups to ensure that concussion legislation had minimal impact on our schools. With the passage of HB281 in 2012, there are new requirements for middle and elementary schools that have interscholastic play, but the vast majority of the requirements for high schools remain the same. New out of that legislation is the requirement to develop a venue specific emergency plan for athletic injuries, and we have provided templates as well as this morning’s informative PD sessions to help you in that regard
We are able to fully implement a bowling championship and initialize plans to implement the wishes of the membership from the 2009 survey. We will have our first championship this year in archery and bass fishing, as well as conducting our first cheer championship.
These sport activities are different. Sport activities don’t force compliance with many of the eligibility rules, and that is intentional. With the procedures and laws of our state allowing unlimited participation by students 4th grade and up, it would require nine years to phase in all of those rules. That in a time when no one is sure that these championships are here for the long haul. So let’s try these things out, and see how they go.
You receive very few paper mailings from our office and you see very few publications in paper. Did you know that the KHSAA, based on low bid alternatives, spent nearly 30,000 a year printing a handbook that was obsolete upon printing. And how about game programs. I don’t know how they sell at your school, but they don’t sell well anymore. There seems to be an age dividing line, but they aren’t being sold. The KHSAA lost nearly 50,000 net dollars last year (that’s printing cost and any commission over ad sales and program sales). So it’s easy to see why we won’t print them any long for sale at events, but we will however, have an electronic alternative and an ability for mom and pop to order a souvenir.
We have also made more strides in standardizing awards, upgrading the awards in nearly every sport, and standardizing basketball with the other team sports.
I am proud that we were able, finally, to convene an ADs advisory committee, a group whose sole purpose is to work with the KHSAA on designing information and systems to assist ADs with the myriad of requirements that need to be met by our member schools.
 
We have again reviewed our regulations, and continued to refine our handbook. Much of that review resulted in today’s proposals. The new and increased regulatory scrutiny we are under since the mid 2000s has led to the need to be sure our regulations are in order.
 
THE FUTURE
Let’s spend just a couple of minutes looking forward. I think for too long we have been going backwards into the future, looking forward to the past. That has to stop. We can’t keep blindly using resources, time, effort and energy trying to re-create 1980. It’s that type of thinking that has brought us so much more scrutiny from outside entities such as the legislature and various other groups. We have to continue to focus on truly doing what’s right for kids within our athletic programs. I am convinced that most of our problems as an Association are caused by adults wanting to argue with kids as an excuse, if we truly think about what benefits kids; it should be a great body of work.
 
Our goal should be that every child is representing the school playing something. And to realize, it isn’t about us adults, whose time has long since passed and we cannot try and live vicariously through today’s kids.
 
So let me tell you of some things we will be doing this year to help with implementing much of the vision that I have and the board shares, for the future.
Athletic Administrator Meetings – We expanded this year from four to eight meetings to refresh our administrators on KHSAA rules, give detailed in person instruction about our online systems AND provide some help with Title IX. These were wonderfully received with 180 of our school people in attendance at these meetings.
As I told you last year, we are beginning a study to honestly answer the question, “Do we play too many games?” With the increase in travel costs, it’s a wonder basic travel can be paid for. And with increased emphasis on test scores and academic results, are we mis-prioritizing the time of our students with long pre-season practice windows and game limits greater than nearly every other state allows.
This effort is not about any single sport. But are we that much smarter than other states? Do we truly have the fortitude to vote in such a change, which obviously will not be well received by our coaches? We have created a situation with our limits that force schools to play a great deal of games every week just to get to the limit; we have to ask if that has an academic impact?
We will continue to participate as part of legislative review on middle school athletics. Though I will forever feel that this issue should have been addressed by school people, and not a task force of legislators, private special interest groups such as the middle school football coaches and only two school people. Thus far, the group has reached no consensus, but the special interest groups that were allowed to be members have been able to start making strides toward protecting their turf.
I will also look in the coming months to identify a new group of people, whose purpose will be to embark on a long term study on what our rules should look like in the future. If we were starting over, what do the kids and coaches need as RULES? We have to quit valiantly hanging on to 1985, and move our association and our rules forward to better position ourselves for survival in the future.
 
But you also need to keep our basic philosophy in mind while recognizing realities of today. We have to ask ourselves, has high school athletics taken on a false sense of importance to certain people? Are we going to let special interest groups wrest control of the program from our school people.
 
Remember why this level is worth fighting for.
WE ARE HIGH SCHOOL
We are about school community, not all star teams. This is about education based athletics, not about putting together groups of kids solely for the purpose of getting a trophy.
We hold athletes and coaches accountable for THEIR actions and behavior. We focus on the values of sportsmanship.
We strike the balance between academics and athletics. We care for the safety of student athletes.
We teach and model integrity. We console, we mentor, and we parent as in many case as we are the only parenting available.
We set standards of fairness and we teach diversity.
We encourage the acceptance of the weaknesses in others while training students to maximize their strengths and the strengths of others so that a common goal can be achieved.
We are about memories.
We must tell everyone that we are the last remaining pure aspect of sport.
WE ARE HIGH SCHOOL.
 
As I close, remember that life is much more about attitude than aptitude, and together, with a positive attitude, we can make a difference.
 
If you think about it, those thoughts should always be in the front of our mind.
 
We’ve got some great happy places we’re going to go in the next few years, doing the right things on behalf of the kids participating. I hope you’ll come with us.
 
I’d like to close with a little story about things that happen to people like me, as we grow older …. Oh heavens, I forgot what was I was going to say.
 

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