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Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015: School starts early for athletic directors

   Leading off today: As the IRS will be informed next April 15, I was on the road for some work-related travel Tuesday morning, dropping in on the mandatory Section 5 athletic directors meeting held at Geneseo High School.

   The key component of the meeting was a presentation by Robert Zayas and Todd Nelson of the NYSPHSAA that covered some rules that have gone into effect in recent months and reminded the ADs of some resources available to help them -- and their coaches and superintendents -- do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

   The series of mandatory meetings for the 11 sections across the state had commenced one day earlier in the Buffalo area and resumes early next month in Sections 9 and 10. I'd highly recommend to reporters with a couple of hours on their hands to dial up their local sectional executive director and ask to sit in, especially if transfer skirmishes take place with any regularity in your neck of the woods or if you are not yet fluent in Athletic Placement Process (APP), a bit of bureaucracy that gets a little worse every time I hear more about it.

   Not to brag -- well, OK, to brag a little bit -- I was more or less up to speed on everything that was covered in the presentation with two exceptions:

  • The NYSPHSAA offered better insight into handling mixed-competition applications after the State Education Department's original instructions fell short.
  • The NYSPHSAA received a favorable ruling after the challenge in February by 10 private and charter schools regarding changes to transfer rules, with a State Supreme Court justice writing that the rule has a "rational" basis to it.
   When I've traveled to the high school or state college in Geneseo over the past 15 or 20 years, I've always taken back-roads shortcuts after exiting I-390. On my way home from yesterday's meeting, however, I decided to take Route 20A (the main road into town) back to the expressway.

   That decision turned into an eye-opener. Though the asphalt itself hasn't changed much since the days I drove Route 20A regular covering high school sports in the mid-1980s, the commercial development alongside it is fairly dramatic.

   That got me thinking about how much has changed in scholastic sports since the time I was covering the likes of Kim Batten, McQuaid basketball and Irondequoit football in the mid-1980s. Some examples, based on yesterday's meeting:

  • The words "concussion" and "protocol" were seldom used individually, let alone next to each other. Nowadays, coaches are required to take refresher courses on identifying concussion risks ever two years and tools like ImPACT post-injury assessments are available for about half of what I paid for the "Frampton Comes Alive" 8-track tape as a teen.
  • Unified Sports did not exist, and even Special Olympics-like programs were sparse. Sections 6 and 8 will join Sections 2 and 5 in offering Unified basketball, making for about 70 schools participating in Year 3 of the groundbreaking activity.
  • Cheerleading has gone from sideline decorations to sophisticated stunts to competitive cheerleading beginning in 2015-16, complete with a scoring system that civilians will find more confusing than a Rubik's Cube in a dark room. (Trust me, it actually makes sense.)
  • In 1985, drones were 11th-grade English teachers discussing the merits of James Joyce (there were none). Now they're the topic of a five-minute warning about devices flying near (possibly a bad idea) or over (definitely a bad idea) football fields. football site

  • Home schooling? Transgender stu-dents? Virtually unknown in the days when "The Breakfast Club" and "Back To The Future" were big news on the big screen. Now, superintendents get questions about both on a fairly regular basis.
   A lesson learned: If you're waiting for me to pile on, you're in for a long wait. Molly Huddle knows she messed up, and one of the most accomplished distance runners to come out of New York isn't likely to do it again.

   With competitors charging down the homestretch during the women's 10,000 meters final at the World Championships in Beijing this week, Huddle eased up short of the finish line and raised her arms, thinking she'd secured the bronze medal. She was caught completely off guard as fellow American Emily Infeld slipped ahead and beat her to the line for third place.

   "She got this once-in-a-lifetime moment, and I feel like it slipped through my fingers, so it's frustrating," Huddle said, adding that the tape of the finish was "painful to watch."

   In short, her best finish ever in a major international outdoor meet ended up being a devastating disappointment for the former Elmira Notre Dame star, now 30.

   "This is going to be a tough one to swallow," Huddle said.    Huddle has held the U.S. record in the 5,000 since 2010, breaking her own mark last year in Monaco. She decided to turn her focus to the 10,000 this year for major events, and won at the USA Track and Field Championships in June.

   Following up: The Indiana High School Athletic Association announced six players and an assistant coach have been suspended for their respective team's next game following the season-opening football altercation I mentioned in a recent blog.

   In addition, both programs have been placed on probation for the rest of the season, and the suspended players are required to take an online course in sportsmanship.

   The IHSAA has ruled the game a double-forfeit.

   Learning tools: A couple of useful documents (In PDF format) from the NCAA:

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