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Friday, Dec. 21, 2012: Sec. 1 to start football season a week earlier

   Leading off today: OK, so this whole Mayan calendar thing turned out to be a bust -- if you can characterize our continued existence, as opposed to the world ending courtesy of a volley of meteors and fireballs, as a bust.

   Next up on the calendar watch: Thanks to how key holidays fall, Section 1 will sync up its schedule with the eight other sections that participate in the NYSPHSAA playoffs and start its 2013 and 2014 regular seasons a week earlier.

   That should mean the suspension of preposterous three-games-in-11-days stretches for some teams, The Journal News reported Friday. Section 1 Executive Director Jennifer Simmons released a statement saying there was no vote involved in the change, but the upcoming two fall seasons could lead to more permanent measures.

   All sports, including football, will begin their preseason next year on Aug. 19. Labor Day falls on Sept. 2 and Thanksgiving on Nov. 28 next year. That allows teams to scrimmage Aug. 31, open the season on Sept. 6-7 and play state finals at the Carrier Dome Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

   In 2014, Labor Day is Sept. 1 and Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 27, again allowing for a start of the regular season on the first full weekend of September.

   However, the 2015 calendar resumes an unfavorable scheduling stretch. With Labor Day on Sept. 7 and Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, Section 1 will have to decide whether to join the rest of the state by playing Week 1 games Sept. 4-5.

   ďAny vote for a change was tabled so that over the next two years, information could be collected to see if a change is warranted,Ē Simmons said.

   The combination of Hurricane Sandy and a nor'easter storm in a short span caused repeated postponements for downstate sections and New York City schools late this fall, with Section 1 Class A -- saddled with the three-games-in-11-days postseason in order to accommodate an eight-team field -- forcing a nearly unprecedented delay in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association football tournament.

   Section 1 and 9 reps each lost games in the state tournament after having had to play games five days apart due to the late Section 1 championship game. Had Section 1 been on the same schedule as the rest of the sections, the football final would have been completed before the hurricane.

   Speaking of hot-button issues: If wrestling fans aren't the most passionate supporters of a high school sport, they're at least in the conversation. That's why it's no surprise that an online petition started this month by Tim Herman of Rochester is nearly halfway to the goal of 2,500 signatures already.

   Herman and other wrestling supporters want the NYSPHSAA to restore sectional singlets to the state wrestling tournament in Albany rather than have athletes compete in their school-issued colors. The section-issued singlets -- Section 5 wrestlers, for instance, wore purple -- were a longtime tradition, but budget issues caused the NYSPHSAA executive committee to do away with state-issued tournament clothing in several sports.

   "Earning a state championship singlet is not only the goal of nearly every wrestler in NYS, it's something the spectators look forward to," Herman wrote in his petition. "Fans dress in their section colors, families have custom colored t-shirts made, and some athletes even dye their hair to match! Not to mention, in a sea of matches, it's nearly impossible to closely follow the action as a spectator without the visual cue."

   Shortly after the petition went public, New York Wrestling News spoke to Robert Zayas, who became executive director of the NYSPHSAA in September -- after

the executive committee had made its decision.

   Strictly speaking, the decision is out of Zayas' hands, though the executive director certainly has clout within the organization and is entitled to discuss the avalanche of petition emails when the executive committee reconvenes Jan. 29. "If the sections come together and say that they want this change, it might be possible," he told the wrestling website. "But if itís only a few Sections, it probably wonít happen."

   There are logical arguments for overturning the decision -- the traditional color scheme is fan-friendly for a meet in which action takes place on multiple mats over two days, plus it's easier for referees to quickly determine if they've accidentally been assigned to a match involving a wrestler from their section -- but dollars and cents will still rule the day until someone comes up with a solution.

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   "My understanding is that cost was the focus of the decision," Zayas said. "Theyíll need reasons to reverse the decision. I donít mind hearing the passion and perspectives of the member schools and constituents on this issue. But I donít have the ability to overturn this and neither do a number of others on the petition. The people who want their voices heard should make sure their opinions are heard by the section representatives."

   As someone who covered the Section 5 state qualifier ("Supersectionals") more than a few times back in the day, I can confirm how enormously proud wrestlers were to be awarded their purple singlet after winning the championship match in a packed gym. I'd venture a guess that many athletes valued that article of clothing as much as or more than any trophy or patch they earned in the sport.

   Extra points: Mexico senior diver Nick Rodriguez set a Section 3 record during a dual meet Tuesday vs. Weedsport with a six-dive score of 370.95. The reigning sectional overall champ broke his own pool and school records.

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