The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Tournament Management Committee, as its name implies, is charged with managing tournaments for high school sports across the state.
But on Wednesday morning the TMC voted, 15-0, to recommend to the Board of Governors that MIAA-sponsored tournaments be canceled for the winter season, which is scheduled to run from Nov. 30 to Feb. 22.
That comes on the heels of the entire spring season being canceled in April and regional and state tournaments for the fall season being canceled in August, all due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“No one supports tournaments more than Tournament Management does,” TMC chair Jim O’Leary said. “So I think it’s important that we’re looking out — and we expressed in the springtime that the regular season was for, first and foremost, getting the most experience for our student-athletes in the state, and we’re continuing along that line with some clarity.”
The decision is, as noted, a recommendation, one the Board of Directors will most certainly not address until after various state agencies, most prominently the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, release guidelines for winter sports. That’s expected to occur in early November.
Direction from the COVID-19 Task Force will also play a major role in the Board of Governor’s decision.
Each of the MIAA’s nine districts were tasked earlier this fall with seeking input from their member schools about what direction to take with regard to the winter season.
Support was overwhelmingly in favor of canceling MIAA-sponsored postseason tournaments while attempting to replicate a locally controlled format that has worked well thus far this fall, that is shortened schedules with schools placed in geographic pods to reduce travel.
“I do believe that those of us who are able to compete in the fall are managing it, and I think we’re all pretty proud of what’s going on right now,” said Westboro High athletic director Johanna DiCarlo, one of four Central Mass. representatives on the TMC.
“I personally also feel that sort of creating the same kind of system for the wintertime that we’ve had in the fall would be reassuring for our districts, our kids, our parents, everyone. They sort of know what to expect now that they know what we’re doing in the fall.”
Monty Tech AD Dave Reid strongly feels the same way.
“I think most schools in Central Mass. would just like to be able to get 10 to 14 games within their pods, which worked well in the fall,” said Reid, noting Monty Tech moved all fall sports to the fall II season. “So I think that’s where most of them are, including our league (Colonial Athletic). We don’t think getting to a tournament is a realistic thing this year.”
That said, the recommendation does not preclude leagues or districts — of which there are two in Central Mass. — from holding their own postseason tournaments.
District 2 is comprised of the CAL, Dual Valley Conference, Inter-High, Southern Worcester County League, and Notre Dame Academy and St. Paul in Worcester. The Mid-Wach League and Worcester County Athletic Conference make up District 3.
So the option is there to have championships in Central Mass. this winter, whether they be by district, North County and South County, or the entire region.
“This is not much different than what we do already,” DiCarlo said. “I mean, we have some tournaments, especially at the end of basketball season — the Clark Tournament, some other things — that are locally run tournaments with whatever schools they chose to invite or qualify.”
DiCarlo also pointed out that leagues, districts or regions will be able to hold their own tournaments at the end of the regular season when the statewide tournament format is adopted beginning with the 2021-22 school year. So it just could happen sooner rather than later.
“Other than having those tournaments in the future sanctioned by the MIAA — they’re going to have to file that paperwork — people can do whatever they want to do, at least during the regular season, in terms of having competitions,” DiCarlo said.
While the start and end dates to the winter season have been approved, eliminating MIAA-sponsored postseason tournaments will provide flexibility in terms of allowing districts to start later or finish earlier.
It will also provide flexibility when it comes to making decisions on rescheduling or canceling contests, taking pressure off administrators and ADs to squeeze in games for so-called playoff pushes.
Here and There
After much discussion, the TMC voted, 14-1-1, to continue with the current regional format of North, South and Central/West for swimming and diving. That runs counter to the statewide format that will go into effect for all other sports beginning in September, but the longstanding issue of facility availability was a factor that couldn’t be overlooked. … The Track and Cross-Country Committee voted to give leagues the option of moving indoor track to fall II and allow those meets to be held outside if indoor venues aren’t available.
—Contact Rich Garven at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RichGarvenTG.
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