Sideline Talk: Section 1's repeated mistakes cost thousands

Sideline Talk: Section 1's repeated mistakes cost thousands


Sideline Talk: Section 1's repeated mistakes cost thousands


Learning. It’s what high school is all about, right?

Fail one test, you try to do better on the next. Learn from history, or you’re doomed to repeat it. I picked that up in high school.

So, what about this concept is so difficult for the people who run Section 1 athletics to understand?

I know the section is repeating its mistakes, since I find myself writing about them so often.

In this case, the mistake wastes thousands of dollars each season, not to mention everybody’s time.

“Why couldn’t Section 1’s baseball and softball teams play last Sunday and on Memorial Day?”

I’m not asking myself; I’m repeating the question I’ve heard for a week now. I’m sure I’ll hear it a few more times as the revised, rain-soaked sectional schedule collides with prom season. Several schools, like John Jay, may have to choose between playing and partying on Friday.

I would say hindsight is 20/20, but we all saw this coming, especially as both Sunday and Monday provided perfect playing conditions.

But the time to ask “Why not?” has long since passed. It’s pretty clear this was a cost-cutting effort, anyway.

All Section 1 executive director Jennifer Simmons and crew can do now is make every effort to fix their mistakes organizing their tournaments, to prevent yet another year marked by a weather-crunched sprint to the championship round.

There’s no preventing, or predicting, the rain. I know that. Although you don’t need to be Al Roker to know the atmospheric conditions this time of year make for a constant possibility.

So, you can plan for it. This is where Section 1 keeps making the same expensive mistake, season after season, year after year; it simply schedules too many games.

Nineteen teams began the Section 1 Class AA baseball and softball tournaments. Twenty-three teams qualified for the Class A baseball playoffs, and 20 softball teams made the cut (I use the word “cut” in the safety-scissors sense of the word). In Class B, 18 baseball and 15 softball teams reached the postseason.

Anytime you have to label a round “outbracket,” since it precedes the “first” round, it’s time to look yourself in the mirror and ask why you keep hurting yourself.

Take a cue from our friends in Section 9 and stop making it so complicated. None of these tournaments should begin before the quarterfinal round. Take the top eight teams in each class and let them fight it out in a nice, clean three-game tournament.

With apologies to all of you schools, coaches, parents and players who would be on the outside looking in, the regular season is the time to prove playoff worth, not an “outbracket” game.

It would prevent the best teams from having to waste their time playing games against teams that didn’t earn their place in the playoffs, it would increase the margin of error when scheduling around rain, and — get this — it would save a whole lot of money.

Between travel costs and umpires, those extra early-round games — by my count there were 66 superfluous baseball and softball games this year — waste thousands. To put that in perspective, the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals for Classes AA, A and B consist of 42 total games. So, over 61 percent of those tournaments are unnecessary.

But let’s monetize that, shall we? While we can’t estimate travel expenses, with gas prices, mileage and driver costs fluctuating by team, we do know how much umpires cost.

According to the contract posted to Section 1’s website, each umpire made $102 each varsity game last year. That’s not including any possible additional expenses incurred by cancellations, games starting late, etc. Brad White of the Hudson Valley Softball Umpires Association confirmed that number has not changed for 2013.

Multiply $102 by two umpires per game, and by 66 superfluous games, and you’re left with a baseline bill for $13,464.

That’s American currency, not pesos, or yen, or Monopoly money.

That’s an additional expense Section 1 keeps creating for itself each basketball, baseball and softball season, when it admits an unwieldy number of teams into its postseason.

It’s time for Section 1 to stop paying for its mistakes and start learning from them.

These tournaments should be cut down to size, for the good of the top seeds, the good of the schedule and the good of the bank accounts.

And maybe then, Section 1 will have enough money to play a game or two on Memorial Day.


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Sideline Talk: Section 1's repeated mistakes cost thousands

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