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Wednesday, July 25, 2018: Video replay approved for NYSPHSAA hockey playoffs

   Leading off today: Video replay will make its debut in the 2018-19 boys hockey postseason following a vote Tuesday by the NYSPHSAA Central Committee.

   On the first day of its annual meeting, the governing body of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association approved the recommendation of the hockey committee to use video replay to determine goal/no-goal rulings and to resolve clock issues.

   The use of replay technology kicks in for sectional tournaments and continues through the state tournament championship game at HarborCenter. Only video from arena camera systems will be used.

   In contests in which video technology is in place, goal judges behind the nets would no longer be used.

   The hockey committee's proposal, which it recommended unanimously to the NYSPHSAA earlier this year, noted that other states playing under National Federation rules have approved the use of video technology.

   The NYSPHSAA already has provisions for limited video replay in basketball and competitive cheerleading.

   Date shifts: The Central Committee also approved a pair of calendar shifts, one temporary and one permanent.

   The NYSPHSAA softball tournament semifinals and finals will be pushed back one week to June 15 next spring to take advantage of scheduling that will see students sit for Regents exams a week later than usual. By adding a week to the regular season, the softball committee expects to alleviate weather-related issues that see some teams play as many as six or eight games in the final 10 days of the regular season to make up for earlier postponements.

   The NYSPHSAA bowling tournament will make a permanent move to a week later on the winter calendar following a vote Tuesday.

   The Central Committee also OK'd changing the format of the event to three days of competition from the previous two. Bowlers were already on-site for three days, using Friday as a practice day. Going forward, Friday will become a competition day, which will help address spectator overcrowding triggered by the switch to a two-class format last winter.

   The Central Committee also approved amendments to the bowling substitution rule and revisions to the sports rule governing the maximum number of contests.

   Also approved: Outdoor track and field's proposal to adopt a new super qualifying standard on a two-year trial was also approved. The decision will allow a limited number of third-place finishers from the state qualifying meets to advance to the NYSPHSAA championships based on hitting a specified time/distance during the regular season.

   Because the super qualifying standards are based on a five-year average of the fourth-place finishes in state finals, the track committee expects only 10 to 12 athletes a year to benefit from the experiment.

   Split decision: With the change to 17-minute periods from the previous 15 having previously been ratified, the hockey committee's request to institute a standardized warmup protocol was approved by the Central Committee.

   The proposal assures that the ice will be resurfaced at least twice from the start of a 10-minute warmup to the end of the contest, though teams with less time-sensitive rink arrangements can continue to cut the ice three times if so inclined.

   On the other hand, the girls volleyball committee's request to extend its standard operating procedure for state tournament contests to the regular season was tabled for further review at a later date.


   Looking ahead: The Central Committee meeting continues Wednesday, with relatively few action items remaining on the agenda. The Central Committee will be asked to tackle a pair of proposals related to cheerleading and two related to the procedure of determining enrollments for combined teams via the graduated scale.

   Much of the remainder of the day will be used on discussions setting the table for potential October votes by the Executive Committee on season start and end dates and evaluating whether all sports should be abiding by National Federation rules. The latter has become a point of contention for the girls basketball committee in particular because many in the sport would prefer to continue playing under NCAA rules.

   It was the basketball committee's request last year for additional waivers to certain NCAA rules that triggered the

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new round of discussion on whether volleyball, softball and girls basket- ball be brought into the National Federation fold.

   TV or not TV: Early in the meeting, Executive Director Robert Zayas indicated that the NYSPHSAA is moving in a new direction with respect to content rights for state competitions.

   When the organization signed an exclusive 10-year deal with Time-Warner Cable Sports in the spring of 2013, the subsidiary of Time-Warner Cable was already in the business of showing football and lacrosse semifinals and finals as well as the hockey, wrestling and basketball finals across most of Upstate New York on a dedicated sports channel. (To the frustration of many, Long Island and other downstate communities served by other cable systems have never been included.)

   In the interim, however, the conglomerate was sold off to Charter Communications and rebranded as Spectrum Cable. Spectrum has been in cost-cutting mode since, and the dedicated local sports channel was one of the first casualties.

   A year ago, Spectrum continued its Friday cablecasts of regular-season football by moving its game of the week onto its 24-hour news channel. At the same time, they took the ambitious step of streaming up to three additional games per week to customers in most of their Upstate markets. Since then, however, they've scaled back again -- first moving all of the high school content to the streaming platform and then deciding to not renew even relatively modest regular-season football deals with individual sections.

   Still, Spectrum is only halfway through the contract with the NYSPHSAA and on the hook for roughly $250,000 per year if I recall terms of the deal correctly.

   With that as the backdrop, Zayas told the Central Committee that there have been talks about allowing the sub-licensing of some content. An accommodation to Spectrum would have to be made since the original contract called for exclusive rights for all boys and girls regional, semifinal and championship events on mobile, Internet and on-demand platforms.

   One suggested suitor would be the NFHS Network, which repackages live streams from hundreds of sources across the country and sells all-you-can-watch subscriptions for $9.95 a month or $60 annually. Already, several NYSPHSAA sections have been in discussions with NFHS Network to make up for the loss of regular-season coverage by Spectrum.

   Given the widely varying production standards -- the streams are produced by anyone from school video clubs to professional media companies -- NFHS Network might be a short-term solution at best, even if final aspects of the sub-licensing can be hammered out with Spectrum.

   In all likelihood, a streaming-only solution is the option going forward as the NYSPHSAA charts its eventual course beyond the existing Spectrum contract. Given the ever-changing nature of technology, it's hard enough envisioning who the players might be six months from now -- let alone five years down the road..

   The only guess I'd hazard is that whatever money there is to be made will arrive in considerably smaller chunks than what the current deal offers.

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