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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 5, 2009

School contests cut across N.Y.

By Jordan J. Michael

The number of high school games across the state will be cut next year, although each section has yet to finalize details.

Because of the state’s fiscal crisis, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association voted over the weekend to cut about 10 percent of games.

“This will make a minimal difference to a smaller districts’ entire budget,” said Joe Sapienza, Voorheesville’s athletic director. Voorheesville is a small suburban district. “I don’t think the sacrifice will be worth it.”

Two other athletic directors –– Wayne Bertrand at Guilderland, a large suburban district, and Fred Marcil at Berne-Knox-Westerlo, a small rural district –– said last week the plan would level the playing field.

“The amount of money saved is going to be different for each school,” Sapienza said. “Take Guilderland for example, a class AA school. They will substantially save more because they have more programs.”

Asked last week how much money would be saved by the 10-percent cut in games, Nina Van Erk, executive director of NYSPHSAA, said that she was confident it would be substantial.

“A Capital Region school district estimated that it would save $20,000,” Van Erk said. “That did not include supervisory costs or time keepers, or chaperones.”

At a Section II meeting on Wednesday, athletic directors gathered to get specifics and to address concerns. “There are a lot of inadequacies from sport to sport that need explanation,” Sapienza added.

The maximum number of contests has been cut for each sport. Teams with 24 contests, like softball, will be cut to 20; sports with 20 contests, like basketball, will be cut to 18; sports with 18 games, like soccer, will be cut to 16; wrestling will be cut to 19 points or five tournaments; and football will be reduced by one game. Junior varsity and freshman programs will be slimmed down by two contests.

This resolution originally included a reduction of modified programs as well, but the number of contests remained the same for modified.

“If NYSPHSAA is going to reduce contests, then they should cut everything,” said Sapienza. “But, modified programs are the first tier in developing skills in school sports.”

This cutback may shift interest to organizations outside of school athletics –– for example, travel teams and youth programs that don’t have to follow NYSPHSAA rules.

“Athletes might not want to play a reduced amount of games,” Sapienza said. “They might look elsewhere. It’s more of a philosophical position than a specific one.”

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