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Six-man football, state dual wrestling tourney considered

PIERRE — Big changes may be on the way for football and wrestling after the first reading of handbook proposals at Monday's meeting of the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

Among the many handbook changes considered were the advent of six-man football and the addition of a dual title to the state wrestling tournament. Starting in the 2019-20 season, six-man football would replace the 9B classification, leaving only two classifications of nine-man football.

The new classification would be open to any school with an average daily membership of 40 or fewer male students. The board approved the first reading of the creation of six-man football on a 5-2 vote. Board members Dave Planteen of Baltic and Steve Morford of Spearfish cast the dissenting votes.

SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand said wrestling coaches have been hopeful that the dual tournament would be reinstated.

"The coaches are hungry to get it back," Krogstrand said. "If we're bringing it back, we have to make sure that we do it right."

Getting it right was the subject of a lengthy debate. The original proposal called for implementing the tournament during the next school year. Some athletic directors in the room, who already had their dual schedules set for next year, balked at making the change so fast.

Some board members agreed.

"I feel like we're trying to build the airplane while we fly it," said board member Brian Maher of Sioux Falls.

The motion that passed unanimously called for implementing the tournament in the 2019-20 school year with SDHSAA staff tasked with figuring out how teams would qualify for the tournament.

Activities association signs up for webcast of postseason games

Starting in the next school year, high school sports fans separated by distance from their favorite team will be able to follow the postseason action on the Internet.

On Monday, the South Dakota High School Activities Association entered a five-year agreement with NFHS Network to provide Internet coverage of sub-state postseason games. South Dakota Public Broadcasting will continue its exclusive coverage of state tournaments.

For the rights to those games, the NFHS Network will pay the association $35,000 a year, according to chief executive officer Mark Koski. A fan logging in to the NFHS Network would pay $9.95 which allows for a month of viewing.

Koski said the network has broadcast more than 250,000 events. Statistics show that 80 percent of the network's viewers are located an average of 150 miles from the site of the game. Koski said most viewers are grandparents, parents who are overseas or casual fans from outside the state.

Currently South Dakota media outlets that stream substate games pay a small fee or allow time on the broadcast for SDHSAA public service announcements.

The SDHSAA board approved the sale of substate broadcast rights on a 7-0 vote.