EDITOR’S NOTE: New Kansas State High School Activities Association executive director Bill Faflick recently sat down with Topeka Capital-Journal high school writer Rick Peterson to discuss his position and issues dealing with high school activities. This is the second in a three-part series. Here is the first part.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association has made significant changes recently, including a long-awaited major reclassification initiative and a pitch-count rule in baseball designed to maintain arm safety.
But as he begins his tenure as the seventh executive director in KSHSAA history, Bill Faflick knows there is still a list of things the association needs to continue to examine as it moves forward.
Here is a look at four hot-button topics that are high on his list:
Safety continues to receive a lot of attention, with emphasis on reducing concussions as well as preventing heat-related incidents, and Faflick said the KSHSAA keeps a constant eye on that issue.
“Any time we talk about opportunities, we always talk about student safety and risk minimization and making sure we’re on the cutting edge of taking care of kids and providing information to our coaches, our administrators, our athletic trainers to make sure they’re equipped with the latest, greatest, best practices that allow our kids to go out and thrive, but to do so with a minimal amount of risk," Faflick said. “That’s always first and foremost. We have to stay abreast of those issues."
A major change this school year will be new heat acclimatization and heat illness prevention guidelines going into effect that will limit both the number of practices and length of practices in all fall sports.
For the first five days of official practices teams will be limited to one practice session per day lasting no more than three hours, including warmup, stretching, conditioning and weight room activities.
From Day 6 and beyond teams will be allowed to hold two practices every other day, but double-practice days must be separated by a single practice or rest day. Practices will be limited to three hours for a single practice or five hours total on multiple practice days.
Extra walk-through time of one hour will be allowed, but must be separated from practice by at least three hours.
“With our acclimatization process moving into this next year it’s going to be a little bit different than coaches are used to and kids are used to, but they’re still going to be able to compete and they’re going to be able to do so safely in the safest, most medically approved process possible," Faflick said.
Promoting multi-sport participation
You may have heard radio spots from the National Federation of State High School Associations, in conjunction with the KSHSAA, promoting participation by student-athletes in more than one sport in an era where pay-to-play clubs promoting specialization are increasing all over the country despite evidence that being a multi-sport athlete has both safety and competitive advantages.
“Sports specialization is another issue," Faflick said. “We want kids being involved in school activities year around, to have the pride in wearing that school uniform."
There are increasing concerns that some non-high school coaches are encouraging athletes to get out of high school athletics by pitching the notion they will have a better chance of getting a college scholarship if they concentrate on club sports and specialize on a single sport.
“That’s not healthy for kids, that’s not healthy for schools," he said. “Our decrease in the number of girls playing basketball is significant because clubs tell kids, 'Don’t play school sports.' "
Faflick said he believes a well-rounded school program that incorporates both academics and athletics is still best for students.
“Our mission remains the same — connect kids to school and provide a high-quality academic-based activity program that is education at its core, teaching kids how to compete, teaching kids how to collaborate, teaching kids about sportsmanship, goal-setting, overcoming adversity, learning how to win, learning how to lose, learning how to communicate," he said. “All those things are so important.
“There’s nothing better than being at an event and watching our kids and our coaches and our cheerleaders and our parents enjoy that event."
Student-athletes are changing schools at some point in their career at an alarming rate, with many seemingly making that move purely for athletic reasons.
Faflick said the KSHSAA is well aware.
“That’s certainly something that is an issue and is something our schools are very interested in seeing us look at," he said. “How do you feel when a kid comes into your school and you’ve been positioning yourself and working for three years to be the starting point guard or to be the starting running back and now all of a sudden here comes some kid in that’s not connected to your school and takes that playing time away or a roster spot in some cases from someone."
Faflick admitted that he and the KSHSAA don’t have a ready answer for the situation but will continue to study the issue.
“It will be very deliberative and we’ll take our time, but we need to address that," Faflick said. “It’s a rule that’s there to protect kids, not just the kids who are moving schools, but the kids that are in schools where kids move.
“Our transfer rule hasn’t had a lot of changes, but it has been tweaked over the years and maybe it’s time to look at that again, to look at what needs to happen there to really make sure kids are representing communities where they belong. It’s a hot topic and it’s passionate."
Recruitment, retention of officials
Faflick said the KSHSAA needs to continue efforts to recruit and retain officials.
“We have a tremendous shortage of officials in Kansas and we need to continue to be able to help that important part of our program grow and to be effective," he said.
Faflick said the KSHSAA and its member schools need to do their best to make sure that officials are able to work in a healthy and safe environment when working school events.
“As an official, you know going in, 'I’m not in a win-win situation. The win-win is when they don’t even know I was there,’ but that seldom happens in a high school game," Faflick said.
“We had the officials’ advisory committee here (recently). Officials from across the state, across all sports represented here, and we talked about making sure that we maintain that opportunity for them to be safe in their environment and to continue to provide the support that they need to be welcome and to be cared for while they’re with us."
Next up: What Faflick would like to be as the KSHSAA executive director.