By Michael Hoffer
The Maine Principals’ Association announced late last week that in response to a proposed reduction in state subsidies in education and expected budget shortfalls, several changes to high school athletics are being considered.
An ad hoc committee on athletic policy recently met to “ensure a level playing field around the state,” and an MPA press release recommended the following changes:
• A reduction in the maximum countable games in every sport.
• A shorter sports season for select sports.
• A reduced number of scrimmages and exhibition games.
• Few teams qualifying for the postseason
• An end to regional competition
The MPA Interscholastic Committee will vote on the proposed changes in January, with the maximum countable games and postseason qualifying points going into effect this spring.
Teams that play 12 or more countable games in a season will see a two-game reduction. Those that play 10 or fewer, will see a one-game reduction.
Currently, field hockey, soccer and volleyball in the fall, basketball and hockey in the winter, and baseball, softball and lacrosse in the spring, play anywhere from 14 to 20 countable games, on average.
For instance, soccer teams that currently play 14 games, will play 12 next fall.
If approved, baseball and softball teams would cut from 16 games to 14 and lacrosse would go from 12 to 10 contests allowed this upcoming season.
Starting next school year, the hockey and swimming seasons would be reduced by a week due to the expense of renting pools and ice.
Also starting next year, each team will be allowed just two dates to compete in scrimmages, exhibitions and preseason and holiday tournaments. Popular events such as the boys’ basketball holiday tournament at the Portland Expo and the Maine High School Hockey Invitational could be in jeopardy.
In sports which currently use Heal Points to determine standings, two-thirds of teams qualify for the playoffs. That would be reduced to 50 percent next year and could eliminate the opportunity of a fairy tale postseason championship run.
Information from the Sun Journal was used in preparing this story
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com