Bold move for Fresno Unified in football: No offseason full contact

Bullard’s head coach Donnie Arax, center, greets the Central High coaching staff midfield after a scrimmage game against Central High at Central High on Friday night, August 17, 2012, in Fresno. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

In the most progressive move yet in the north Valley to reduce football injuries — specifically concussions — the Fresno Unified School District on Tuesday adopted a policy to prohibit full contact in the offseason.

That means no tackle in pads will be allowed outside of August, when practice begins, through the teams’ final games of the season, in November or December.

Offseason tackle in gear is commonplace at the high school level in summer camps and scrimmages.

“It’s tough for me to make this concession because I’m a dinosaur, we hit more than any team in the area and I’m going to miss it,” Bullard coach Donnie Arax says. “But I think it’s a smart move because this concussion issue isn’t going away. This is a great sport and we’ve got to establish measures to keep it so we don’t start losing kids. Parents in suburban schools are not going to let their kids play football if we don’t make changes.” Read more →

Crichlow: “Saving for a rainy day”

It was only three months ago, in the Veterans Memorial Building in Porterville, that Central Section commissioner Jim Crichlow trumpeted the section’s financial boon for the 2011-12 school year, announcing that a net of $1 million had been made through playoffs.

From that amount, $700,000 was returned to the section’s 94 schools and $300,000 to Crichlow’s CIF office, which operates on a $400,000 annual budget.

The section’s CIF reserve fund, meanwhile, ballooned to $450,000, which I published. And that drew a common reaction from readers: “What is it used for?”

To which Crichlow responded: “Never know when you might need some for a rainy day.”

And, sure enough, three months later — on what is typically the section’s most profitable day of the year — here we are.

On a day of five section football championships — one at Madera Ranchos, one at Clovis and three in Kern County — we’ve been hit hard with rain, particularly to the Valley’s north.

Forecast calls for it to stop by 7 p.m. kickoffs throughout the Valley.

Regardless, the damp conditions are sure to deter hundreds, if not thousands, of fans from attending the games in what I would expect to be the lowest collective turnout in years.

Bottom line: It will be interesting to see if the section makes budget in June. If not, Crichlow will have to tap the reserve fund to pay his administrative budget and for trophies and scholarships.

Fortunately, the section is so financially healthy, there’s no need to worry about all bills being paid and students/schools being properly recognized.