Monday, April 27, 2009

FHSAA's board reduces amount of varsity games

The Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors is cutting schedules in order to cut costs.
By a vote of 9-6, the association’s board Monday decided to reduce the amount of varsity games in all sports — except for football — by 20 percent for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. Sub-varsity games will be slashed by 40 percent.
Sports that were allotted 25 regular-season games — baseball, basketball, soccer and volleyball — can now play no more than 20. Tennis and wrestling have been trimmed from 18 to 15 games, golf will be cut from 14 to 12 matches, and cross country, swimming and diving, track and field and weightlifting will be limited to 11 events after being permitted to play 13.
“I’m very frustrated,” said Southeast girls basketball coach John Harder, “and very, very disappointed.”
The reason for the reduction, according to a statement on the association’s Web site, was to lessen the operating costs of high school athletic departments.
“People are losing their jobs as schools are cutting millions and millions of dollars from their budgets. Our jobs is to look out for all the schools,” said Greg Zornes, president of the FHSAA board of directors, said in the statement.
Harder, however, would rather see athletic departments be permitted to police their own finances instead of seeing the FHSAA’s board uniformly chop five games off everyone’s schedule. He was also upset the association didn’t get any input from coaches or players around the state.
“There’s no survey, no involvement from the coaches. You don’t feel as if you have a say,” Harder said. “We could always play less games. Now, you can’t play enough.”
Less games on the schedule means less flexibility for coaches. Bradenton Christian’s boys team, for example, will play 10 games — or 50 percent of its schedule — against the Panthers’ five Class 1A-District 8 opponents, limiting the amount of non-district games coach David Magley can schedule.
“We played nearly every team in the county this year, and they were great games,” Magley said. “And you could feel some rivalries building. Now, that’s gone. And it’s very disappointing.”
Magley and Harder said limiting games limits the amount attention players can get from colleges.
“My guys are trying to go to college,” Magley said. “They just got 20 percent less of a chance to play in front of a college coach.”
Manatee’s softball team was expecting to play in a tournament next spring and host one, as well. Coach John Carlock doesn’t see that happening now.
“It really limits what you can do in the season,” said Carlock, whose Hurricanes head to Seminole tonight for a Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal game. “We always enjoy going out and playing different teams.
“The whole scenario is ludicrous. I’m vehemently opposed to it. What are they trying to save, and why don’t they do it for football? I think it’s going to send a lot of people packing and heading toward travel ball.”
The reduction is to last just two years, according to Zornes.
“That’s it — we really mean two years,” he said. “We fully intend to restore what he had until (Monday) at the end of the two-year period.”
Harder hopes the board sticks to that promise and doesn’t go in the other direction.
“That’s my next fear — that it’s 18 (games), then 16 and then, why play?” he said. “This is isn’t enough for me to be discouraged by the FHSAA. Everybody is allowed to have a miscue. This, to me, is a mistake, and hopefully this can be rectified at some point.”

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