BROOKLYN CENTER (AP) -- The Minnesota State High School League has eased its rules on what constitutes a preseason scrimmage versus what counts as an actual game, clarifying rules that forced many schools to cancel games this spring.
The league's board unanimously approved an item Monday that will allow all sports teams to use officials -- paid and unpaid -- for scrimmages during the first three weeks of the season. In those scrimmages, though, schools must abide by league policy and not charge admission or keep score.
Scrimmages played after the three-week period with officials will require a waiver from the league office.
The issue came to the forefront this spring when several dozen schools were penalized for having umpires present during baseball and softball scrimmages during preseason trips out of state.
Under rules that many schools didn't fully understand, softball and baseball teams can play a maximum of 20 actual games before playoffs, and the rules said scrimmages played with umpires had to count as games unless the league granted a waiver.
The Eden Prairie softball team, which won the 2002 Class AAA championship, was hit hardest when it had to count 12 scrimmages as games from its spring trip to Florida and cancel other games to compensate.
"I'm glad to hear it," Eastview softball coach Matt Percival said of the change. "It creates more opportunities and ensures a safe environment. With us being so limited in the outdoor preparation time and our season being so short, to have this opportunity for more game-like conditions is fantastic."
The change is in the form of an emergency bylaw that the league will present to its representative assembly when it convenes in November. At that time, the bylaw is expected to be reworked and reworded, and ultimately, approved into formal policy.
"This is the interim solution," MSHSL associate director Skip Peltier said.
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