Sorry. I had to move it from Tuesday night to Wednesday night because of a conflict with my daughter’s road field hockey game in Hershey (her team won, btw).

You can join the chat tomorrow here at 7 p.m. And yes, you can make fun of my rankings. A little bit.

Just a reminder: I’ve written and posted precious little on anything but football this fall, but I will begin posting post-season information of district and PIAA fall championships ASAP. As I’ve said since the site launched in February, that’s my primary mission.

 

The links below go to a set of three stories on the operation of District 10; the stories ran this past Sunday in the Erie Times-News. They are very well-done and eminently readable, difficult to do with these kinds of information-heavy stories.

Erie Times-News lead scholastic writer Tom Reisenweber, a rising star among the state’s high school writers, authored all three with an assist from columnist John Dudley, who formerly covered high school wrestling for the Times-News. John still does the occasional football game or wrestling match for the paper.

The stories are here, here and here.

The series is not just crafted well, it does an excellent job of opening a window on how PIAA districts operate. There are substantial similarities and differences in the operations of the 12 districts, but once you read through the series, you will have a pretty good idea how districts do their business across the state.

I’ll let the details speak for themselves, but I do want to comment on one important aspect of the stories: Tom and John did an excellent job of skewering the notion that districts are not oligarchies, as they seem to be so often portrayed. That simply is not the case, and the Erie stories do a nice job of exploding that and some other myths. I doubt that was the Times-News’ intent. Rather, that’s what happens when reporters are committed to fairness.

In the last few months, I’ve become more intimate with the operation of District 3, now that I am a paid independent contractor facilitating the field hockey and girls volleyball power ratings. I did not regularly cover District 3 meetings (out of sheer sloth, if I can be so honest) while I was at The Patriot-News, but I can tell you this. The District 3 Committee is dedicated to doing the right thing for interscholastic athletics in District 3.

That occasionally results in disagreement and debate, but it should be comforting that District 3 (as well as other PIAA districts) are not monochromatic either in their outlook or their make-up. I’ve been called an apologist and even a shill for PIAA (and to a much lesser degree its districts) many times over the years. That’s never bothered me because I found out years ago that PIAA is not the smoky, back-room poker game in which it has been so improperly characterized.

This series is worth your time no matter what section of the state you reside.

 

The full PIAA Board of Directors has begun its October meeting.


Since it failed to discuss any public vs. private issues in Strategic Planning, I’m not sure that it will come up tonight.

Moment of silence for Rich Constantine, Uniontown principal and WPIAL chairman, who passed away during the summer at the age of 63 after a tough battle with cancer. Nice touch, and wholly appropriate. Rich was a good man.

This doesn’t appear to be a “big issue” meeting. The agenda is loaded with snooze-y items. I’ll do my best to keep it readable.

Business manager Greg Biller gives the Board good news. Despite the horrible economy that battered ticket sales in some sports, the PIAA will be in the black by approximately $190,000. That’s a very strong number considering the football revenues were short of budget, but PIAA has worked to control expenses in order to attain a profitable bottom line.

OK, still in sleepy land. Something about Act 48 credits. I acknowledge my ignorance.

It’s pretty sluggish right now.

Whew, more reports than a high school English class. Lot of bone, no meat right now.

The chat right now is about student leadership conferences. Very good stuff for the participants, but not exactly the stuff the third-and-long crowd is interested in. (I’m a charter member of the third-and-long crowd.)

I’m not holding out on you, folks. Most of what has happened is pretty much in-house stuff that has very little to do with the fan-at-large.

Finally, some action, and it’s on junior high football.

In July, the Board adopted an interpretation on junior high football that made any 7th or 8th grade football players ineligible for participation in the current season if that player engaged in a youth league (with contact) prior to the start of the PIAA defined season.

Naturally, this caused some problems. Some players, possibly unaware of a late-summer PIAA ruling, did participate in a community league before the official start of PIAA practice. Some of those cases made it to district committees. District 7 heard three cases and, following the interpretation, made all three players ineligible. Those players went back to their youth programs and have not played junior high or middle school football.

But in District 1, the interpretation was waived in three cases in part because two of the three players ended up with no youth team to return to.

As a result, a motion was made to completely eliminate the interpretation and, in the words of Board president Rod Stone, “get the PIAA out of the business” of regulating community youth football.

It seemed to be a wise move, all things considered. But PIAA counsel Alan Boynton pointed out that the PIAA still had jurisdiction on the length of season, and if a player participated in a youth program after the end of the season, that player would then be inegible to participate in the following season.

It created considerable conversation. In the end, no action was taken by the Board, but it will take up the matter at the next meeting, almost certainly to eliminate the current interpretation and to ensure that all athletes are aware of the eligibility ramifications of PIAA rules.

Here’s a good one: District 10 chairman Wally Blucas, an ardent supporter of a return to strictly East-West Championships, slips in a side-door attempt to get that item back into play.

Blucas proposes: “All final championship contests shall include one team representing teams from PIAA Districts 12, 11, 4, 3, 2 and 1 and one team representing teams from PIAA Districts 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, and 5.” In short, a return to East-West bracketing.

The motion fails on a first-reading basis, 19-10. Thank goodness.

Clearly, the move is propelled by basketball, which just last year featured two championship games with teams from the same district: Plymouth-Whitemarsh and Penn Wood from District 1 in Class AAAA boys and Bishop Guilfoyle and Northern Cambria from District 6 in Class A girls.

But as written, the proposal would have affected “all sports.”

Not sure that would have gone over well in, say, field hockey. In that sport, there are 129 schools in the eastern districts and 15 in western districts in Class AA. It’s worse in AAA: 138 schools in the east and 13 in the west.

Same for lacrosse, which is currently one class. There are 127 schools in the east, 34 in the west.

The imbalances that exists statewide in many sports, icnluding football and basketball, are why the PIAA erased the old East-West lines to begin with.

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