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Monday, Jan. 16, 2017: Long Island coaches, doctors discuss pitch counts

   Leading off today: With the state's largest high school sports governing body heading into new territory this spring with pitch counts in baseball, coaches and others attended the "Injuries in Baseball" conference on Saturday at Ward Melville High School.

   The National Federation of State High School Associations announced last summer that each state would be required to adopt pitch-count standards for the 2017 season. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association put forward its first plan last year. With some of the logistics still to be worked out, a varsity pitcher will have to exit after 105 pitches in a regular-season game or 125 in the postseason. The amount of mandatory rest between appearances works on a sliding scale.

   Speaking at the conference, organizer Dr. Luga Podesta of St. Charles Sports Medicine suggested the postseason numbers may be too high because pitchers are more likely to be throwing while tired, Newsday reported. The "Pitch Smart" program endorsed by Major League Baseball leaves the limit for 17- and 18-year-olds at 105 pitches for all games.

   Sunday basketball: Bishop Loughlin scored a tough road victory in the CHSAA, defeating Christ the King 66-62 in overtime.

   Loughlin is ranked sixth and Christ the King 18th in the most recent New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA rankings.

   CK's Tyson Walker made a 3-pointer to tie the score at 52 with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter. Jordan Thomas put Loughlin up 54-52, but Walker tied the game again with two free throws to bring on overtime.

   Markquis Nowell and Keith Williams combined for all 12 of the Lions' overtime points while Jose Alvarado scored all eight of the Royals' points.

   Treating 'em the same: The Democrat and Chronicle did a thorough piece this weekend on the issue gender equity for Section 5 championship meets and tournaments. On the heels of a Title IX-inspired flag raised by the NYSPHSAA a couple of years ago, sectional officials have been scrutinizing how championships -- particularly gifts and awards -- are handled.

   This school year, Section 5 began a policy determining that sports with girls and boys equivalents -- soccer, volleyball, lacrosse and basketball, for example -- will strive for similar, if not equal, awards and experiences. It hasn't been especially hard to even out any old discrepancies pertaining to trophies, but other issues remain. If boys committees had a special touch that the corresponding girls committee couldn't match, it typically got phased out.

   A healthy chunk of the story discusses the difficulties associated with the policy when it comes to business sponsorships, particularly when it comes to champions banquets or finalists luncheons. Some boys sports, particularly basketball, have had long-standing relationships with backers.

   "Has it gone perfectly? I would be lying if I said yes," recently appointed Section 5 Executive Director Kathy Hoyt told the paper. "But we're moving to get it closer. For some of them it's a natural progression for their sports. Some of the sports, it's a drastic change."

   The history of Title IX, which became law in 1973, itself helps explain the difficulties now. It's hard to argue that a level of equality has been reached, but the legislation brought on explosive growth for women's sports at all levels. It's been a net positive -- as long as you don't try selling that to college wrestling and men's gymnastics programs (or what's left of them).

   Though overall sports budgets grew, a lot of colleges took shortcuts to meeting equality standards by gutting certain

men's sports -- though usually not football, heaven forbid. Some boys sectional sports officials expressed related concerns.

   "If a coordinator wants to promote a sport, you are telling me they can't because the other sport doesn't? It's kind of a weird thing to do," sectional baseball coordinator Jason Bunting said. "It's taken Title IX and abused it. To me this is not a boys versus girls issue. If softball does something and baseball does not, I'm not going to complain about it."

   Boys basketball coordinator Jack Purificato shared some of the same concerns because he faced the prospect of lost financial backing that allows games to be played at Blue Cross Arena -- generating a lot of money for Section 5.

   "I didn't want to lose sponsorships," Purificato said. "The best thing of the whole thing is that Ed Stores (recently retired as executive director) came in and said we want to raise the levels up, not bring anyone down, which I believe is a great approach to this."

   Extra points: The McDonald's All-America teams in boys and girls basketball were revealed last night. You can seek out the details by searching the Internet yourself, because I won't lend and degree of legitimacy to an "honor" handed out halfway through the season.

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