ORLANDO >> So Connecticut is going to have eight high school football champions this fall. Eight state champions. In a state the size of a postage stamp.
The CIAC Football Committee had a meeting, talked about it and came up with this solution.
There will be four divisions, LL, L, M and S. Of course, there will really be eight divisions. The committee doesn’t call them eight divisions, but a rose by any other name…. Here’s what the committee did.
1. The current playoff points system – as unfair as it is – will continue to be used.
2. The top eight teams in each of the four classes will make the playoffs. That’s 32 teams, which common sense says is 16 too many.
Now the entertainment begins.
3. Those top eight teams will then be divided into two groups of four by enrollment. So even if a team has the highest number of playoff points, if its enrollment makes it fifth, it will not play against the other top three teams in points, but will be put into the group with the other three schools based on enrollment.
This they call fair.
4. Then the four teams in each subdivision will be reseeded by playoff points.
This they call sensible.
Then there will be eight semifinal games and four so-called championship games producing eight – that’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 champions.
This is called good.
Getting in the spirit of let’s give everyone a trophy, I propose that we give each division a proper name. Let’s call the largest enrollment class the RBHS division for Really Big Huge Schools.
Then the next division of LL schools, TNSBHS division for The Not So Big Huge Schools. I can’t wait to hear the cheerleaders spell out that one.
In Class L same thing. We can have the RBBS division – the Really Big Big Schools, and the NSBBS – the Not So Big Big Schools.
In Class M, first is the BMS – the Big Medium Schools, and the NSBMS – Not So Big Medium Schools.
Then for Class S we have the BSS – the Big Small Schools Division. And just for variety, we can have the TWSS for Teenie-Weenie Small Schools.
All of this makes marvelous sense, although living in Oz might be the place it really makes sense. After all, there is the enormous total of 140 high school football teams in Connecticut, of which perhaps 120 have exactly no chance of winning a state title. With eight divisions, that means a team will be champion of fewer than 18 schools.
That’s fewer schools than are members of the Central Connecticut Conference or the Southern Connecticut Conference.
Think this is silly? Welcome to the club.
But let’s cut to the chase. The real issue here is that the football committee just won’t budge off the the dime on 32 teams qualifying for the state playoffs, despite the fact that in the past few years, many playoff games were blowouts because there were a bunch of teams that had no business being in any postseason.
But that fact is ignored. The group did nothing to fix a broken playoff point system and did nothing to make sure that we had genuinely deserving state champions. Nope, they decided to have eight “state champions.”
Even the kids know that makes little sense.
But I really think we ought to use the acronyms. I can hear the coach now in the Big Small School division saying to his kids: “Our goal is to win the BSS championship.”
I figure the first two letters of that say all that needs to be said about this system.
But let’s be brutally frank: the football tail is wagging the dog. The season is absurdly long. It runs into mid-December, it forces winter coaches to prepare without key players across the state. The basketball season this year ends after spring has officially started.
The baseball and softball seasons run into the second weekend of June, after most parochial schools have dismissed for the year. And, if there were no snow days, public schools would be in the midst of final exams.
Football should be over by early December at the very latest. Basketball should be over 10 days into March. Baseball should end in early June. The villain of the piece is football. Many say it’s out of control.
I love high school football, but I agree with that view. Time for adults who do not have vested interests to take control. Now.
Do legislators have a clue?
There are two proposals before the Connecticut General Assembly that will have a profound negative impact on youth and high school sports in Connecticut should they somehow find enough legislators to vote in favor. Both are classic examples of laws that are well-intentioned, but are speeding headlong down the road to hell.
One is HB 5113 entitled AN ACT CONCERNING YOUTH ATHLETICS AND CONCUSSIONS. Sounds like a wonderful thing, right? Read on.
This law would require that all coaches of all youth sports – Little League, American Legion, high school, AAU, you name it – retake a new course on concussions. This course must be taught to ALL PARENTS AND STUDENTS.
Wait a minute. As one coach said, “We can’t get all parents to come to a PTA meeting; how are we going to get them to take a course?
The same coach said: “What about single parents who have to work? What about parents who don’t care?
All parents and students must sign a consent form, parents must agree in writing that their child can return to play, even after a doctor has cleared the kid. Practice is limited to 90 minutes of contract, including scrimmages. All referees must take the coaches’ course.
All youth sports from Little League, to Park and Recreation programs, to AAU must have a concussion course and every kid over the age of 7 must have a concussion course.
And here’s the kicker. “Adherence to all requirements or be subject to civil action from the state attorney general.”
Look, we want our kids to be safe, but this is overkill on the grand scale. Once again, we have legislators delving headlong into areas they know little about. One coach said to me, “This would absolutely chase me out of coaching. It puts far too much burden on every coach at every level and at the end of the day, if I didn’t adhere to every single item, the attorney general is coming after me.”
Joe Serra. Matt Lesser. Paul Doyle. Christie Carpino, Dante Bartolomeo. All of you legislators, start talking to people.
Talk to Fred Balsamo, the head of the state athletic directors. Talk to coaches in your high school. Talk to Little League and AAU coaches. It’s asking too much and in my view – and in the view of coaches and administrators with whom I have talked – this is absurd.
Playing sports contain risk. People get hurt. There needs to be reasonable precautions. But this bill – and the somewhat less invasive SB 229 AN ACT CONCERNING SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST PREVENTION, are simply unrealistic and, in the words of one administrator, “will devastate youth sports, not to mention drive high school coaches and officials out of their professions.”
There is the old line that says hide the women and children when the legislature is in session. On this one, add “hide the coaches and officials” to the list.
Here and there
Christina Harvey, a Middletown High alumna, Class of 2011, is having a great year for the indoor track team at Tufts University. While at MHS, she ran the anchor on the 4×200 relay team which still holds the school record … this year she did the same thing at Tufts, running the anchor in the 4×200 team which smashed a 30-year old record at the college with a time of 1:45.50 … Harvey also set the Jumbos’ record in the 60-yard dash with a time of 7.89 … Christina Harvey, this week’s winner of the Way To Go Award.
The MHS cheerleading team finished fifth overall out of 20 teams in the Central Connecticut Conference cheerleading championships last weekend … out of 87 cheerleaders who tried out for the All-CCC cheer team, some 40 were selected including Middletown’s Calvin Dempsey … Dempsey earned 58 of 60 points, the highest score of the day, and earned a certificate of excellence.
Paid more for a seat at the Braves exhibition game — $39 — than I paid for a ticket last summer in he same approximate area for a regular season game at Turner Field in Atlanta … think that the fact the stadium is in Disney World had something to do with that? … does the sun rise in the east? … if Arizona Gov. Brewer had not vetoed what was laughingly called the Religious Freedom Bill (a.k.a. as legalized bigotry against LGBT Americans) I would have hoped the NFL would have yanked the Super Bowl out of that sorry state … bet the NFL is breathing easier today.
Did you have any doubt that Mercy would dismantle Career in the SCC final? … me neither … lost in the game story about the MHS’ boys CCC playoff loss to Weaver was that Brandon Simmons had 38 points … kid can play, folks … I missed the 33-30 Xavier win over West Haven … throwback to the 1930s, huh?
Congratulations to area wrestlers who performed very well at the state meets … Xavier finished a close second in LL to Newtown … Middletown was a strong seventh in Class L … Will Chowanec (138), Brendan Butler (160) and Colin Cunningham (182) won individual state LL championships for Xavier … Cody Carrillo was Class L champ at 182 from Middletown … Ryan Henderson (145) and Zachary Roth (170) won state championships for Haddam-Killingworth.
The girls tourney gets underway this week … Mercy is home tonight with Crosby as it begins its run at a second straight LL crown … Middletown opens at home tomorrow night with East Lyme in Class L … lots of area teams in action tonight and tomorrow, too.
MHS super swimmer Matt Dagenais broke another all-time school record when he set a new time in the 200 yard freestyle of 1:47.16 against Bulkeley on Friday … the kid’s name is now on the record board six times … he holds the school record in the 200 free, the 200 individual medley and the 100 yard butterfly … he also is part of the school record holding 200 freestyle relay, the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay … oh, yeah, he’s a junior.
No surprise Xavier lost in the SCC playoffs to Career … Career is one of the state’s elite teams … Career is in Class L, which is shaping up as one very tough division .. the Falcons now prepare for the Class LL tourney.