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Neil Kerr, 1943-2023

   (March 28, 2023) -- It is with enormous sadness that the NYSSWA must pass along the news that Neil Kerr, a genuine legend in New York's high school sports community for his work spanning more than five decades, has died. He was 80 years old.

   Neil worked for many years at The Post-Standard in Syracuse, where he chronicled the Section 3 sports scene. He was instantly recognizable in gyms and stadiums across Central New York with his trademark fedora and respected for his devotion to highlighting the achievements of scholastic stars.

   It was Sunday afternoons and evenings, however, that made Neil legendary. As editor of the the New York State Sportswriters Association, an organization he co-founded, Neil produced an eight-page weekly newsletter jammed full of class-by-class rankings in multiple team sports, clippings from newspapers around the state, and tibdits phoned in by reporters as they supplied weekly updates on top local teams.

   Neil produced, photocopied and mailed more than 500 copies a week at the organization's peak an average of 45 times a year for 45 years. With the rise of the internet having eroded paid membership, we discontinued publication and moved solely to online news and rankings on this site after the 2011-12 school year, though Neil kept responsibility for the weekly football, boys basketball and boys lacrosse rankings.

   Thoughout the years, he also personally compiled all-state teams in football and basketball and recruited so many of us writers across the state to fill in the voids in other sports. Health issues slowed Neil in recent years, but he remained involved as Steve Grandin in Saratoga devoted generous amounts of time taking over the major responsibilities.

   Merely handling the nuts-and-bolts duties of rankings and all-state selections for all those years would have been enough to qualify him as one of the most influential figures in the history of New York scholastic sports, but Neil's greatest contribution was his relentless campaign for New York State Public High School Athletic Association

Neil Kerr

championships beyond just cross country and wrestling. Bowling and boys lacrosse came aboard in 1977, followed by boys basketball and soccer the following year.

   Soon, nearly all sports were conducting season-ending championships, but football was the notable holdout as the sport's leaders across the state tried to work out logistics while faced with endless hurdles from key decision-makers. Neil wrote numerous editorials lobbying on behalf of the sport, and football finally began crowning champions in 1993.

   State championships would have been inevitable without his push, but it's realistic to credit Neil with helping to get the ball rolling and allowing untold thousands of athletes to be able to be able to say they were state champions.

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