Friday, February 22, 2008

Change to the CT Playoff System?

First off, I love the blogosphere. One blog writes it, then another picks it up, then another, and so on. Hopefully the info stays accurate, then we can all opine on whatever it is, and life goes one.

I say this because I was sorting through my Google Reader (which is where I get updates on the blogs that I read) and I saw an item from Tim Parry regarding potentially HUGE changes in Connecticut high school football and the playoff system. Tim got the lowdown from Sean Patrick Bowley (quickly becoming our latter-day Bill Gonillo).

Now to make sure that this isn't second-hand info, I'm posting the link to SPB's original piece. Tim's take on this is here.

Now it's my turn. What Connecticut is considering is what is already largely done in New York. BUT! The Empire State starts their season a week earlier (are you reading this CIAC?), plays every weekend, doesn't have conference championships and is done by the time we're all returning from our Thanksgiving break (trust me, I've sat in traffic on the New York State Thruway returning from championship games in Syracuse).

So is this a good idea? Not if you like tradition. I've talked with many players over the years and while they all love the title of being ONE of SIX state championship teams (who then vie for the mythical overall number one, as voted by a select number of coaches and media), the Cardinals that I've asked tell me that the FCIAC title means a lot to them - sometimes more than the state title. But the FCIAC title game would be a mere memory in this system. There would be no time for such a luxury. So the game that has taken place every year since the mid-60's would be gone.

Look, it's great that the CIAC is actually talking about this, but the first thing that needs to be changed is the start of the season. It's ONE WEEK we're talking about. It would line Connecticut up with New York and New Jersey. It would also allow for creativity, like the Greenwich-Bergen Catholic showdown that currently can't happen due to the scheduling system. Then they have to decide if the Thanksgiving rivalries mean anything to people. In this new plan, those would be gone.

Like Tim, I agree that there are some potential good sides to this idea. I'm not as tied into the Thanksgiving games as others are, and that might be because I'm a New Yorker and a lot of those games have been eliminated (not all, mind you, but most). Still I'm a fairly traditional guy (my outrage at the disruption of the Rye-Harrison game is still palpable) and I hate to see traditions get interrupted.

Now there's some debate about the potential matchups of teams that have never played each other (these would be among the non-playoff teams). This also happens sometimes in New York, but the difference is that the teams are from the same section. For instance, Mahopac played Gorton (from Yonkers) - two teams that aren't normally on each other's schedules. It's not like the 'Pac played, say, Chenango Forks (they're just north of Binghamton). Connecticut, while a much smaller state, could still have some hair-raising road trips in this new system.

So until I see a better plan than this, I say it ain't really broken. Don't try to fix it. Keep talking until a resolution that works for everyone makes sense. And perhaps most importantly - how about involving the students as well? They're the athletes here. As I've said so many times - youth athletics seem to get the most screwed up when the adults get involved.

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