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Sunday, July 28, 2019: Previewing this week's NYSPHSAA meeting (con't)

[ Continued from Page 1 ]

hard and got back to 20 games a few seasons ago, but others have been waiting. Their break came when the state's superintendents association recognized the obvious last September -- a lot of scrimmages could easily be replaced by games.

   By the superintendents' calculation, three-sport athletes could be losing out on as many as 48 games opportunities in a four-year career as matters stand now. And savings to schools has been negligible at best.

   Changing penalties: The existing penalty for exceeding the maximum number of games is immediate termination of the season. It rarely happens and there really is no excuse for it happening. The biggest issue that people seem to have with the rule is that it's the kids who absorb the brunt of the penalty for a mistake made by adults.

   That could change this week. The proposal in play is to let schools remain eligible for the postseason by paying a $1,000 fine and suspend the head coach for the remainder of the season.

   A hockey long shot: The ice hockey committee has put forward a proposal to extend periods to 17 minutes with adjustments also made to the length of penalties. The 2018-19 regular season was played under those conditions but the state tournament had to revert to 15 minutes with shorter penalties because a year-long pay dispute with on-ice officials couldn't be settled.

   The money issue remains unresolved, so the new proposal specifies that the new pay rates have to be negotiated to make this work. That would require the NYSPHSAA to break from its policy of re-setting officials rates every third year. The recommendation of the Championship Advisory Committee by a 6-4 margin to oppose the hockey committee's request suggests that's no more likely to happen now than it was a year ago.

   Hockey will still get its 17-minute periods, but it'll have to happen beginning with the 2020-21 season.

   Site selections: It'll be up to the Central Committee to settle a difference of opinion on where to conduct the boys swimming championships from 2021-23. The NYSPHSAA office staff recommended Ithaca College but the swimming committee went with Nassau Aquatic Center by a 7-5 vote.

   The rental cost of the Nassau bid is substantially higher but the facility has greater seating capacity.

   A proposal from the Webster Aquatic Center that was somewhat competitive on the basis of price got no traction in the discussion, with seating capacity (slightly lower than Ithaca) and overall deck space cited as factors. I hope this isn't my Section 5 bias showing, but the people making the site selection would have saved a ton of money on hotel rooms by going with Webster.

   Other action items: The handful of lesser items that will be put to a vote includes:

    • Modification of the rules for appeals to the NYSPHSAA, which would increase the filing fee to $500 and require a unanimous decision by the three-member panel to overturn a section's decision.

    • Creation of a NYSPHSAA Foundation, launched with a one-time dispersal of money from the NYSPHSAA. Fifteen state associations responding to a survey have foundations, which allocate money for causes like scholarships, student leadership training, safety equipment such as AEDs and funding insurance policies for catastrophic injuries.

    • Creation of an Officials Appreciation Day during the fall season, comparable to what is in place to recognize coaches in the spring.


    • Approval of state coordinators for five-year terms in five sports: Jim Wright in softball, Jamie Harter in girls golf, Diane Hicks-Hughes in girls swimming, Pat Ryan as assistant for girls swimming and Chuck Wiltse in boys cross country.

   Up for discussion: The softball committee has proposed an extension of the international tiebreaker rule waiver, already in place on the final four weekend, to also cover the earlier rounds of the state tournament.

   The rationale is that the international tiebreaker rule, which has teams start the inning with a runner on second base beginning with the 10th inning, was instituted in the days when the pitching circle was set at 40 feet from home plate instead of the current 43.

   Moving the circle back three feet had the desired effect of reducing the number of 1-0 and 2-1 scores. In fact, the committee has moved in the direction of adding a mercy rule to address offensive outbursts.

   The elephant in the room, which the softball committee

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acknowledges, is that the discussion is taking place in the aftermath of a 20-inning semifinal without the tiebreaker between Ballston Spa and Sayville last month.

   The vote on the proposal will likely come in October's Executive Committee meeting.

   What else to look for: The NYSPHSAA has been progressing slowly on updating its guidelines for participation by transgender athletes because it has been awaiting input from the state's attorney general as well as the New York State Education Department.

   Central Committee members will hear that there's now a greater sense of urgency at the state and national levels with an eye toward the November 2020 election, which could flip control of the U.S. Senate and the White House. That's because Democrats in the House of Representatives this spring pushed through a bill that would require schools to include male athletes who identify as transgender girls on female sports teams.

   Without provisions in place for requiring testosterone suppression treatment -- NCAA rules require one year in such a program before being approved to compete -- some observers are worried about localized instances of girls teams being dramatically changed. One consequence could be girls losing their places on teams.

   The issue has been top-of-mind in Connecticut where the sprints in state high school track meets have become the domain of two teen males now identifying as females without undergoing testosterone suppression treatment.

    • There's nothing on the agenda specifically addressing ways to break the trend, but members will be presented data showing that attendance at NYSPHSAA championships declined for the fourth consecutive year. Attendance in 2018-19 slipped to 95,728, down 2.55 percent from the previous year.

    • There's also nothing up for discussion in the aftermath of the organization's affiliation with the NFHS Network to stream games, but the membership will hear about some strong numbers from Year 1. A total of 357,899 streaming sessions of NYSPHSAA events were logged, with the Glens Falls vs. Lowville boys Class B basketball final coming in at No. 1 with 13,950 views.

   A few more numbers to chew on:

    • Online ticket sales for NYSPHSAA championships grew 70 percent over the previous year.

    • I'd like to think that every school district offers regularly scheduled hazing prevention training and that's why only 47 schools have used the NYSPHSAA course, with only 70 of 240 participants completing the course. The NYSPHSAA may discontinue its offering and steer schools toward a similar NFHS program.

    • The girls volleyball committee is proposing rotations for postseason matchups for the next two seasons, a very routine matter. In the course of trying to work out equitable pairings, they did research that shows just how difficult it is to put everyone on equal footing for the first two rounds of the state playoffs.

   For instance: Sections 1 and 2 have 73 and 77 volleyball-playing teams, respectively. But 44 of the Section 1 teams are in Classes AA or A while 43 from Section 2 are in C or D. And then there's Section 5, which will have 39 teams playing for a single berth in the Class D tournament. Sections 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 have a combined 34 squads in the state's smallest classification.

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