News, notes and observations on New York high school sports
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Monday, Sept. 7, 2015: Intentional hits on football official create outrage
Leading off today: It may be Labor Day, but your loyal blogger was just too restless to let the holiday go by without catching up on some interesting recent news, leading off with the first viral video -- in this case it's nothing to be proud of -- from the 2015-16 school year.
Outrage in Texas: A San Antonio school district has suspended two players from the team after one of them ran into the back of a football referee watching a play and the other dove into the official, the district's athletic director said Sunday.
Video showed the referee watching the play with about a minute left in the contest, and his head snapping back when he is leveled from behind. The other player then dove on top of him. The team from John Jay High in San Antonio was playing host Marble Falls about 90 miles north of San Antonio.
Before the referee was hit, two John Jay players had been ejected on separate plays.
"I've coached 14 years and I've never seen anything like it," Marble Falls coach Matt Green told the San Antonio Express-News.
The referee was "very upset" and "wanting to press charges," Austin Football Officials Association secretary Wayne Elliott told the AP.
The University Interscholastic League, which governs scholastic sports in Texas, is working with the school district and officials on the investigation, according to spokeswoman Kate Hector.
"The question of what instigated that is what we're trying to figure out," Laing said.
What's in a name? I came down really hard on the students and administrators at Albertus Magnus last March for some truly lousy judgment -- namely, the student section getting personal in its taunts of a player on the opposing team in the NYSPHSAA girls basketball tournament and a lack of supervisors to put an end to it.
School officials came back strong the following Monday with an unconditional apology and a promise to dish out discipline to the offending students from the "Magnus Mafia" student section.
In a column Sunday, Mike Zacchio of The Journal News reported that the measures have gone a step further: The students have been ordered to change the cheering section's name.
It's not entirely clear whether the decision was strictly a matter of dissolving a "brand" with a suddenly tainted reputation or a nod to political correctness; "mafia" is not offensive on the same level as the "N word" and comparable slurs, but it does have some undeniable connotations. Perhaps its a little of both.
Still, as Zacchio notes, "reasonable people would never associate a group of high schoolers with cold-blooded killers, but something had to be done; and so the 'Magnus Mafia" now enters its first full school year as 'Falcon Nation.'"
Zacchio wondered whether some other area student sections would also have to undergo name changes to avoid the possibility of offending.
"There comes a time when we need to stop being so sensitive about every little thing and apply some common sense once and a while, and Albertus Magnus' student section name is just one of them," he wrote.
My take: Call me a "wop" and I'll strongly consider kicking your ass up one side of the street and down the other. The term is absolutely an insult and hateful of Italians. On the other hand, say "mafia" around me and I'll spend the next two hours dropping dialogue from "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas" on you.
And for the record, there is no such thing as organized crime. Those groups only look organized compared to government agencies.
Whoops: I admit to not noticing the problem while watching a game at the Carrier Dome on Thursday -- I was more preoccupied with the heat and humidity -- but once I saw the story on Syracuse.com, I couldn't help but look repeatedly two days later at the grammatical error etched into the brand new turf on the playing field.
Social media users at SU's 47-0 win over Rhode Island on Friday night noticed at the 50-yard line, next to the big
Quite a story: Donnie Webb at Syracuse.com hit the ground running with a nice feature on Syracuse Fowler quarterback Mikaj Weaver, who beat the odds be returning to the field for Week 1 despite suffering major knee damage in a shooting just seven months ago.
Weaver runs with a bit of a limp but flashes an extra gear when he needs it. And he can still throw the ball just fine. On Saturday, Weaver completed 8 of 11 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns in Fowler's 54-28 loss to Horseheads.
Said Fowler tailback Nyrel Reed: "I've known him for awhile and I know he could work through anything. We're all friends out here. I just believed that he could work through it. I know he's got it. He's got it under control."
More choices for PSAL athletes: About 3,000 additional athletes will get a chance to compete in a variety of sports at underserved PSAL schools this year, The New York Daily News reported.
The Public School Athletic League is adding 220 new sports teams starting this week with the infusion of an extra $4 million to the previous $28.4 million athletic budget, and the number will reach about 500 by 2020.
About 41,000 New York City students played for PSAL teams last year, but the heat has been on the city to do more, especially for dozens of small schools created late in former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's term in office.
With many of these schools in minority neighborhoods, activists filed a federal civil rights complaint in 2014. That complaint is still active, and last February the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights ruled that the city failed to provide equal sports opportunities to female students under Title IX.
"Creating more opportunities to play sports will strengthen schools," said city Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina. "More of our students will now experience important team camaraderie."