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Tom Mix, Published April 23 2013

NDHSAA board votes down request to extend spring sports season

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – As most high school teams wait to open their spring seasons, there will be no relief coming from the North Dakota High School Activities Association in regards to extending them.

On Tuesday, the NDHSAA board of directors voted unanimously to deny a request to consider moving this year’s spring state tournaments back by as many as two weeks.

Timing proved to be the key roadblock for any moves this season, but part of the motion was for the NDHSAA to explore starting future spring seasons later.

“We have to take into consideration that the decisions we make and the things we do affect the other activities that take place in the summer,” NDHSAA board president Scott Ulland said. “I think it would be unfair for us to make a change in extending the season this late. We need to investigate it more.”

Several activities such as American Legion baseball, youth soccer clubs and Future Farmers of America already have events scheduled around the current spring state tournament schedule, which spans from May 23 to June 5.

“I think it would have been a hard decision to make,” said West Fargo activities director Curt Jones, who made the request to prolong the spring seasons. “They post those dates and a lot of people do bank on starting summer and planning other activities around those dates. Now we are faced with this spring. If all things go well, we are going to have a two-week season, then regional and then state for some of the sports.”

NDHSAA Executive Secretary Sherm Sylling sympathizes.

“What’s displeasing is we have a lot of spring athletes who have trained and conditioned for the season,” Sylling said. “They are being shortchanged, but to make those changes now would be too big to make. What are the implications that follow a move like that? That is what needs to be studied.”

The NDHSAA has already lifted some of is competition regulations to allow schools to compete in more events each week, but many area teams haven’t been able to take advantage of those yet as fields remain damp or covered in snow.

Board votes to keep fans in seats

Fans being too close to the action, especially in basketball and volleyball, has become an issue in North Dakota. Tuesday, the NDHSAA board of directors voted unanimously to require all fans attending region and state tournaments be confined to the bleachers.

Over the last several years, it has become popular for student fans to stand on the floor area near the baseline of basketball courts. That will come to an end next year.

“It is something that over the years has gotten looser and looser,” said Fargo Public Schools activities director and NDHSAA board member Todd Olson. “Now it is going to be everyone up in the bleachers and it is not that different from other sports like football and hockey.”

Safety and liability issues were the key reasons why the state’s tournament managers made the request. Sportsmanship was also a factor.

“Student fan behavior on the floor has warranted getting them off the floor,” Sylling said. “The things that they say to other players and officials just cannot be tolerated by our association and the sportsmanship philosophy that we have. It has gone overboard. They have abused it and it’s going to go away.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562