Seeking to gain more information from both the state and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association COVID-19 Task Force, the Tournament Management Committee decided to hold off on Tuesday about voting on tournament structure for the upcoming fall sports season.
“I don’t think we need to make a determination on a tournament yet,” said Dennis-Yarmouth principal Paul Funk, who is also on the COVID-19 Task Force. “I would maybe act on the fly as we get going, if you could just get the kids going with a number of weeks, maybe you only play 14 games, 16 games in those weeks and then maybe decide if we can have a small tournament or none at all.”
Wellesley High athletic director John Brown noted the success that independent baseball leagues are having this summer, saying that some high school sports can be played this fall while others may not be able.
“It seems to be going great,” Brown said of the independent baseball leagues. “I read about it in the paper every day, kids are having a great time and it’s working. … For example tennis, you drive by any tennis court right now, they are packed, and they have it set up in a way where people can actually play tennis. … Golf, the golf courses are doing tremendous business right now because everyone can play while staying socially distanced. … We want kids to be able to do what they can while doing it safely.
“And I don’t think anyone is looking at state championships right now.”
Instead of talking at length about this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, the TMC voted on two actions for the 2021-22 sports seasons in the near three-hour conference call on Tuesday. The first action was voting on a proposal from the wrestling subcommittee to go to three divisions and to retain their sectional tournaments.
“We don’t have a postseason qualifier, so that is why we feel that it is best to maintain sectional tournaments,” Wakefield athletic director Brendan Kent said. The MIAA recently adopted a statewide tournament plan to be implemented starting in 2021. “Wrestling still uses a sectional tournament to determine who qualifies for states.”
The new alignment also adds a Division 2 West sectional for the first time since 1993 and puts Keefe Tech in Division 2 West while Marlboro stays in Division 2 Central.
The TMC approved the wrestling committee’s realignment proposal by a 10-2-1 vote.
Football, on the other hand, experienced more push-back from the TMC.
This was the second time that the football subcommittee had come to the TMC with a realignment proposal. At the previous meeting, the TMC approved an eight-division format for football but did not agree to the breakdown of that alignment.
The football committee came with an alignment of 35 teams in each division with voke/tech Schools getting moved down three divisions, private schools such as St. John’s would move up one division and co-op schools would not move up a division resulting in the removal of the co-op factor for division alignments.
The rationale in removing the co-op factor is that many times, most prominently in Western Mass., co-ops are used as a last resort in an effort to save a football program. However, neither Brown nor Westboro athletic director Johanna DiCarlo were buying that rationale.
“I think (the co-op factor) needs to be included if we are going to follow the (TMC) guidelines,” Brown said. “That’s a factor that needs to be included if it a school wants to appeal placement because they are a co-op.”
Burlington athletic director Shaun Hart mentioned that it is easier for a school to appeal to move down as opposed to up.
“You can’t make a blanket statement on that,” DiCarlo said. “There are co-ops specifically in our area that I know people would be upset if they are not moved up because there is a feeling that they are creating a competitive imbalance by bringing together two schools that might not always need them for survival.
“Those four or five kids that they are taking from one school can dramatically change how a team performs in some cases, and so I am definitely a much bigger advocate of keeping the factor in and then letting those schools appeal that they are having a hard time with it.”
The football subcommittee’s proposal was ultimately denied by a vote of four in favor, eight opposed and two abstentions.
A new football alignment was approved (8 yes, 5 opposed, 1 abstention), however, once the TMC reinstated the co-op factor to the new alignment.
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