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CEDAR FALLS -- Discussions between Iowa's high school athletic, music and speech associations could lead to some changes in sports seasons across the state.

Executive directors of the boys and girls athletic organizations on Thursday told the Iowa State Board of Education about the conversations that have been taking place. The board was meeting at Cedar Falls-based Central Rivers Area Education Agency.

Alan Beste, who heads the Iowa High School Athletic Association, said they have been looking at how to condense postseason play and make other shifts to provide a break for students between sports.

Families with children in softball or baseball, for example, could take a July vacation "if we tried to build in a break for summer," he said. Similar ideas are under consideration for the sports seasons during the school year, which could be impacted by a shift in baseball and softball schedules.

Essentially, such changes would mean a "state-mandated break in the calendar" for all sports, said Jean Berger, who heads the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.

"Can we have that?" she asked, even for teams that advance to state tournaments. "Can we end volleyball before basketball starts?" she added, noting those are the sports with the most overlap for girls. Berger also pointed out that spring is packed with athletic options, so "can we move a spring sport to the fall?"

Officials from the Iowa High School Speech Association and the Iowa High School Music Association have been part of the conversation, as well. The athletic groups "don't want to conflict with speech and music," said Beste. "All four of those activities associations have been involved with this ad-hoc effort."

The committee they formed created task forces to look at aspects of the question that involved more than 70 people in the process, he noted, including parents and teachers. Beste said the groups gave the ad-hoc committee some short- and long-term recommendations to help move the debate forward. The association staffs will discuss those ideas ahead of regional meetings of activity directors across the state next week.

The four associations want to hear the activity directors' reactions to help determine what direction to take. "We need to build consensus," said Beste.

"As I told my staff, there's going to be pain," said Berger, whatever changes are made. "There's going to be pros and cons for everything we do."

She added, "We want what's best for our kids."


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