Are state tournaments doomed?

Concerns about costs could threaten championship dreams

We just had a big weekend in high school sports, with state basketball championships decided in Glens Falls and Troy. This on the heels of other state titles, handed out over a month’s span, everything from wrestling and ice hockey to boys swimming, indoor track, girls gymnastics, even rifle and skiing.

All of which makes the following piece of information that much more jarring.

MSG Varsity first reported that New York State Public High School Athletic Association has asked its 11 member sections to consider all sorts of cost-cutting measure. At the top of the list was the possibility of curtailing, or even putting a two-year moratorium on, state championships.

Yes, that’s right. No football teams dreaming of triumph in the Carrier Dome late in November. No hoops teams wanting to make the trips to Glens Falls. No spring festival of baseball in the Southern Tier, or no chance for lacrosse powers in Long Island and Central New York to measure up.

Beyond that, you have the memories students, coaches, parents and communities gain from these trips. Whether they win it all or not, those memories are indelible and priceless.

Ah yes, price. As it always is, the cost of these events is at the heart of this issue.

The suggestion to NYSPHSAA executive director Nina Van Erk arose from Section XI, which covers Suffolk County on Long Island. To be fair, few state tournaments are conducted there, and the travel expenses for those schools are larger than they are upstate.

And hovering over school districts throughout New York is the 2 percent state property tax cap, which curtails a crucial source of funding and has forced districts to implement all sorts of cuts into their budgets, eliminating teacher positions, or schools, or some sports, or all three.

At some point, though, something must be done to take on the crippling mentality that, in a time of economic struggle, cutbacks are the only viable choice, which could produce a whole litany of unintended consequences.

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