Boy, take a day off, and you miss the world.

Recently, I’ve made it a habit to attend the PIAA’s sports steering committees (that’s where the seed is planted for changes in PIAA championships), and had every intention to attend last week’s football steering committee, but some other business intervened and I skipped it. Wish I hadn’t.

At that meeting, the football steering committee voted 11-0 with two members absent to propose move up the first date of football practice starting with the 2012-2013 school year.

In short, there has been much cursing and gnashing of teeth about the 16-week football season in Pennsylvania: Too long, runs deep into December, affects boys’ basketball and wrestling. All true, IMO. But the 16-week season has also allowed all PIAA districts to conduct their respective football championships as they wish (with just a few exceptions) and especially allows the WPIAL to retain its one-day, four-game championship day at Heinz Field.

As District 3 football chairman John Ziegler said at Tuesday’s meeting, “There’s no putting the 16-week genie back in the bottle.” Actually, it was something even a little more folksy, but I forgot to write it down.

As a result, the football steering committee is making a pitch to move up the start of football practice by a week statewide. As the 11-0 vote shows, the issue, which has been raised before and mumbled (rather than shouted) down, now has some serious support. In 2012, that would change the starting practice date from Aug. 13 to Aug. 6 and the first playing date from Aug. 31 to Aug. 24.

Ergo, the question: What’s worse, football on Aug. 4 or football on Dec. 11? And the other question: What’s worse, affecting 8 football teams and hundreds or basketball and wrestling teams or all of the state’s football teams?

District 3 knows where it stands on the issue: Heck, no.

District 3 will vote against the matter when it it raised at Thursday’s PIAA Board of Directors meeting in Hershey. And remember, there are 8 PIAA Board members who either represent, are associated with or live in District 3.

District 3 committee member Don Seidenstricker, the head football coach and AD at South Western High School in Hanover, summed up District 3’s basic position with the following: “This is insanity.”

He’s right, of course. The entire football season should be 15 weeks max (I prefer 14 weeks by shortening the regular season to nine games and expanding classes to six or seven, which these days is a bigger pipe dream than scoring the Mega Millions jackpot).

But the reality is this: Until some folks on the PIAA Board are willing to say “no” to their own, 16 weeks is the present and the future for Pennsylvania football. And an early start to the season, distatseful as it might be to many, the early start is the only solution to this mid-blowingly political problem.

  One Response to “PIAA seeks early start to football in 2012-2013”

  1. Rod a small correction, I hope. in 2012 August 4th and 11th are Saturdays. I suspect the PIAA is trying to move the first Practice date not from Monday, but to Aug 6th from Aug 13th.
    In that year Labor Day will be on Sept 3. The Earliest possible Labor Day is Sept 1, and will occur in 2014. Under the present Schedule, first fall practice is Aug 11, and the week earlier format would be Aug 4.

    Now a, not uncommon, opinion leads to 15 weeks of games, that being because I believe everyone should be able to schedule 10 “guaranteed” games,with an 11th practical but cancelable if one team (maybe unexpectedly) makes the playoffs. 5 weeks off playoffs is enough. The WPIAL should be able to say 1 or 2 games Friday night before 4 on Saturday at Heinz Field (expand classes to 5 or 6) .

    Now an opinion you have not likely before seen. One thing that would make the whole scheduling of HS and college, even pro, sports better – revise the definition of Thanksgiving’s date. It is now the fourth Thursday of November. It had been a changeable day up until the Civil War When Lincoln proclaimed it the Last Thursday of November (which meant it could be the 5th Thursday 2 years in 7). In the 1930’s iIt was changed to third Thursday, at the request of Merchants wanting a longer Christmas shopping Season. Then Football coaches got it changed to its present scheme. But the problem with the present scheme is that 2 years in 7 there are 12 Saturdays between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Revising Thanksgiving to the Thursday before the 4th Saturday of November means there are always 11 Saturdays between Labor Day and Thanksgiving – which makes fall scheduling more consistant, and it means a minimum 4 weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve making winter scheduling easier (and making merchants a little happier). Obviously unlikely, just logical.

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