We could learn a thing or two from these Rhode Island folks

Reasons have long since been established as to why Rhode Island kicks the ever living spit out of Connecticut.

They have Federal Hill. We have Plain Hill Rd.

They have truck tolls paying for road improvements. We have potholes.

They have the shot clock. We have excuses.

They have sports betting. We have debate.

And now for Rhode Island’s latest bout with efficiency: Its governing body for high school athletics recently passed a rule change allowing coaches to work with their players out of season.

Hence, if a basketball coach wants to hone his or her future point guard’s ballhandling skills, the state — with regulations — has passed legislation to allow it.

Rhode Island’s particulars:

• Coaches cannot receive monetary compensation and must participate voluntarily.

• Coaches may not work with more than three players at one time and must do so at one facility for no more than three hours per week.

• Administrators must approve all offseason work before it begins.

• Administrators also must approve any instruction that takes place off school grounds, in the event the school has facilities under repair or insufficient.

It’s smart, concise and leaves the responsibility to comply with respective high school administration members. If rules are broken, accountability begins at the top.

Again: Why are Rhode Islanders so smart and agreeable when it comes to the games kids play?

Such cooperation runs afoul of Connecticut’s rhythms, where we allow exceptions to dictate the rules. This would never fly in Connecticut because the threat of the occasional maniac conducting full, out-of-season practices and gaining an unfair advantage would preclude the preponderance of honest coaches from taking further initiative with their kids.

Imagine if a high school coach had such leeway here in Connecticut. There would be less need for private instruction, thus saving parents money and allowing coaches to maintain consistency and continuity and build better relationships. The last thing a high school coach needs is to have a private instructor teach fundamentals and methods that are different, creating confusion within the minds of the kids and their parents.

Example: What happens if the high school baseball coach thinks “launch angle” is pseudo-intellectual hot air that’s not really applicable to 15-year-olds, but the well-paid private instructor thinks it’s more important than a lung? My thesis: The kid’s swing will have more pieces than a bag of Reese’s.

Happily, that’s less of an issue in Rhode Island today because of some foresight.

Could a similar out-of-season rule get passed in Connecticut? Hey, anything’s possible. Tiger won the other day, right? We beat the Russians in hockey? It’s just that I don’t see cooperative rhythms or the effort required to make substantive change among our best qualities.

Still, it makes you wonder why Rhode Island can do tolls, betting, the shot clock and out-of-season instruction so easily. I mean, Stonington and Westerly border each other. And yet their governance couldn’t possibly be different. You could stand somewhere on the border, one limb in each state, never knowing how much better off one foot is than the other.

Maybe Connecticut could pull a stunning upset here and look to the east. Rhode Island just made high school coaching an easier vocation with a rule that allows for better instruction and relationships, all while placing the onus of responsibility on the highest paid. The coach took advantage of the rule? He or she isn’t the only one going down. So is the athletic director and principal. Sounds like a pretty good deterrent, no?

An enterprising administrator or two could always take this idea to CIAC. You can’t win if you don’t play, as the old lottery line goes. I’m not sure why this wouldn’t be a layup, other than the fact that it’s Connecticut.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro 


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