For as long as anyone can remember, Massachusetts high school football has been played using NCAA regulations. That’s about to change for the 2019 season, when all Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) contests will be officiated under National Federation for High School Associations (NFHS) rules.
In one sense, that should be a source of comfort for Massachusetts football families. NFHS rules are created for high school athletes, to protect them.
Yet all of that presumes that high school referees can safely officiate games using the new rues and regulations. And a new study of those exact Massachusetts game officials indicates they don’t think they can.
As reported by the Boston Herald, a whopping 89.6 percent of 500 responding officials told a survey that they, “would not be able to officiate high school games using Federation rules in a safe and competent way by September.”
The survey was disseminated by Brian Doherty, president of the Association of New England Football Officials. And while the respondents were on field officials, some of the area’s prominent coaches also expressed doubts about the cogency of the plan.
“We have a concern that this is moving too fast,” said Braintree football coach Brian Chamberlain, who also serves as the president of the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association. “The referees don’t have enough time to learn the Federation rules and neither do the coaches,”
Unlike Brexit, there are still opportunities for the Massachusetts coaches to change their mind. For his part, Xaverian football coach Al Fornaro was even more direct in his opinion about the impact of the proposed rule changes.
“This is like asking someone who has spoken English all their lives to become fluent in another language in six months, while still speaking English.” Fornaro told the Herald. “There are over 200 different rules and officials will be asked to make split-second decisions on one of them and mistakes are going to happen.”