WEEK SET ASIDE TO HONOR HIGH SCHOOL OFFICIALS
By Dana Hess – For the S.D. Newspaper Association
PIERRE — A week set aside for the appreciation of game officials is part of an effort to inspire sportsmanship in high school athletics. The South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors found out about those efforts at its meeting Wednesday.
Officials’ Appreciation Week will be held in South Dakota high schools Jan. 22 through Jan. 28 according to SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director Jo Auch. A similar appreciation week was held earlier in the school year for fall sports.
“Our officials really appreciate that,” Auch said. “Things like that go a long way.”
Auch said appreciation activities can include certificates from the school, posters or a note from the team.
SDHSAA has made an increase in sportsmanship a goal for the year. According to Auch, schools all over the state are doing their part to increase sportsmanship. She noted particular programs at Groton and Dakota Valley.
“I think it’s having a positive impact,” said SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos, who noted sportsmanship efforts by home teams to welcome their opponents.
Football co-op allowed to return to nine-man play
The South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors tried to side-step a scheduling nightmare Wednesday while allowing a football cooperative to switch from 11-man football to nine-man.
Dakota Hills Football Cooperative, consisting of the schools of Waubay, Summit and Wilmot, requested the change. Part of the cooperative’s proposal was that it would be ineligible for the 2023-2024 playoffs.
After participating in 11-man football last season, Summit Superintendent Mike Schmidt told the board that to save the cooperative’s football program it would need to switch to nine-man football.
“We have a lot of parents who are concerned,” Schmidt said, noting that the cooperative fielded a team of mostly underclassmen with just one senior and three juniors. With mostly younger players, the co-op found itself, in one contest, down 70-0 at halftime.
“We’re playing a junior varsity team against Aberdeen Roncalli or Deuel,” Schmidt said. “I’m going to tell you, we will have a program if it’s nine-man.”
Football schedules are set up in a two-year cycle. Schmidt said he knew a change at this point would be a logistical problem for the association.
“We’d have to do every schedule over,” said SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director Randy Soma of the 11B and nine-man schedules. “It affects everybody.”
The board unanimously allowed Dakota Hills to drop down to nine-man, but without changing the schedule. It will be up to the cooperative, with the help of the association, to find open dates when they can play other nine-man teams. The association will also help the cooperative’s scheduled 11-man opponents find teams to fill out their schedules.
Rules adopted for first season of girls’ softball
A game hasn’t been played yet by the newly SDHSAA-sanctioned softball teams, but the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors spent some time on Wednesday ensuring that there were rules in place for the proper stoppage of play.
SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director Jo Auch presented the board with the rules, all of which were unanimously approved.
The board approved a 10-run rule after five innings and a 15-run rule after three innings. That rule applies to regular and postseason contests.
A variety of rules were approved for when play is suspended because of weather or darkness after five innings. “If you play less than five you have to come back and finish,” Auch said.
Another rule adopted by the board says that if a game is tied at the end of seven innings, each team will begin their next inning with a runner at second base.
The board also adopted the double first base rule which allows for a larger base for athlete safety.
SDHSAA begins classification, calendar study
The South Dakota High School Activities Association is embarking on a two-fold mission to study its classification system as well as the calendar it uses for scheduling high school activities.
“Our goal would be to have a report ready for our June meeting,” SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos told the board of directors.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the board approved the make-up of the two committees. Each will have an administrator and athletic director from Class AA, Class A and Class B schools as well as a speech/debate/theater representative and a Native American representative.
The classification committee will also have a music representative. The calendar committee will have an orchestra/band representative as well as a vocal representative.
SDHSAA last had a calendar study in 2016.