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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association flunks this test

George Scione

Interscholastic athletic associations are supposedly the biggest supporters of that school-first mentality. Well, at least in name and motto.

No, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association isn’t the hot topic of this day, although it would be if the situation wasn’t occurring south of the border. ...

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Interscholastic athletic associations are supposedly the biggest supporters of that school-first mentality. Well, at least in name and motto.

No, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association isn’t the hot topic of this day, although it would be if the situation wasn’t occurring south of the border.

Down in Massachusetts, Methuen High School and Chelmsford High School were scheduled to meet up for a Division 1 North semifinal baseball game at LeLacheur Park in Lowell on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Thanks to rain Thursday, the game was postponed from its originally scheduled night. With rain in Thursday’s forecast days in advance, and graduations scheduled for Friday in Methuen and Saturday in Chelmsford, the teams had agreed to play last Tuesday to get the game over with.

Unfortunately, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association doesn’t like compromise. It said no to Tuesday. Then when rain forced it to reschedule the game, the MIAA chose Saturday smack dab in the middle of SATs.

Yes, there are other times to take the test. But with an exam so important that it can make or break a students’ college dreams, taking the test multiple times to better ones score is a necessity. Unless you play a sport in the Bay State it seems.

Because athletics trumps academics in this case for sure.

MIAA Executive Director Richard Pearson defended his organization’s decision to the Boston Herald.

“We wanted to provide everyone with an equal opportunity to play a game at a terrific venue with a great atmosphere,” Pearson said. “We felt Chelmsford had plenty of time to play their game before the graduation.”

But it wasn’t the Chelmsford graduation that was an issue. It’s the SATs, which according to multiple reports had as many as 11 Chelmsford players and three Methuen players scheduled to take the test. That leaves no bench for Chelmsford, as the MIAA allows for a 20-man playoff roster.

Chelmsford coach Mike O’Keefe told the Herald he wouldn’t know how many of his players will take the test or play the game until the bus left the school.

“The unfortunate part about this whole thing is that we are putting young kids into situations where they are being forced to make tough decisions like this,” O’Keefe said. “I know a couple of my kids told me they have to take the test and, as an educator, I respect their decision 100 percent.”

Had Chelmsford not shown up to the game, as originally rumored, Methuen coach Eric Cyr and his players were set to boycott the game in support of their Merrimack Valley Conference rival.

But Chelmsford decided it would just take the field with whoever was able to play.

“My original thinking was that we were not going,” O’Keefe told the Herald. “But I took a step back and started thinking about the seniors who had been on the team for four years. Asking them to forfeit was putting them in a tough situation and I didn’t want to do that.”

And so the teams were headed to Lowell on Saturday.

“You have to think of all the kids. Think of the seniors, who you just don’t want to see lose an opportunity like this,” Cyr told The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass. “And then the juniors, who might be missing what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Of course the opportunity is still there. It’s just a choice to be made by these Massachusetts high school student athletes.

Then again, Granite Staters wouldn’t be off the hook either. Outgoing NHIAA Executive Director R. Patrick Corbin supports the choice made by his peer in Massachusetts.

“This world is full of choices,” Corbin said. “That’s a choice for the athletes to make.

“We wouldn’t change the game either. We change games for graduation and that’s it. It’s on the website, and we send out dates of SATs in writing to athletic directors and coaches ahead of time. We tell them if you have kids needing to take SATs, make sure they schedule it for another time of the year that won’t affect the possibility of them missing a tournament game.”

You really can’t make this stuff up.

No, really, you cannot make these games up – unless rain postpones a game.

Only Mother Nature can get the MIAA or NHIAA to shift their schedules around. And that’s by force.

If this situation proves anything, it’s that: common sense is to interscholastic athletic associations as 90-degree weather is to New England winters.

That’s right, neither seems to have a chance of ever possessing the other – at least not with these bureaucrats in Franklin, Mass., and Concord.

George Scione can be reached at 594-6520 or gscione@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Scione on Twitter
(@Telegraph_BigG).