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Rules change for youth football
Moves will level playing field
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County’s parks and recreation board gave its blessing to a set of youth football guidelines presented at a meeting Tuesday night.

The rules, designed by a Forsyth County Youth Football Association’s competition committee, are aimed at leveling the competition for all participants across the league’s four parks: Bennett, Central, Midway and Sharon Springs.

Following last season, a group got together to discuss how a rule change allowing for more freezes the previous year had impacted play at the parks, said association commissioner Phil Bourque.

A freeze allows for a certain number of players and their associated coaches to stay together from year to year prior to the draft.

"A lot of this started because last year each team got to freeze a total of six players/coaches," Bourque said. "Six is too many. … The more freezes you have, it looks like you’re stacking, even if that’s not what you’re doing.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people might not be doing it, but if 1 percent is, everybody’s going to look bad."

The 2011 league has 1,800 children signed up, with one registration left on Saturday, Bourque said.

Those in kindergarten through eighth grade can participate.

The new guidelines would return to the 2009 setup, which allowed for four players/coaches to be carried over.

That would bring the association more in line with neighboring counties, which mostly allow for three freezes, said Wayne Maddox, manager of the county’s athletic division.

In the past, some teams have used the freezes to ensure a certain coaching staff stays together, Maddox said. That practice can discourage even football education for all players.

"It wasn’t about trying to make all the teams equal. It was about trying to get decent coaches for each team," he said.

"I think it’s better to split [them] up and give two really good coaches to three teams instead of having six on one team."

Board member Cindy Mills, who favored three freezes, agreed the rule change may help prevent situations where certain teams dominate.

"Ultimately, that coach might get that win or that trophy or whatever that year, but we are sacrificing kids playing in the future by doing that," Mills said.

Though the topic of freezes started the competition committee’s discussion, Bourque said the proposed guidelines explored other opportunities as well.

"The presidents of the association felt we have more things we can do to make it better on a greater scale," he said. "I think there’s a lot more we can fix by implementing this whole document."

The guidelines offer ways to create cohesion among the four parks by, among others: instituting one draft instead of four; holding a countywide coaches training; and implementing a standard evaluation for coaches and players.