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Congratulations Section 4 soccer

John Moriello's NYSSWA blog
Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010: Enough already! Quit playing games over games
   Leading off today: I recognized it for the symbolic gesture it was at the time and knew it was futile at best, but I still supported the schedule reductions that were approved by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association two years ago.

   After all, we were plunging into the worst economic climate in three quarters of a century, and it was obvious everyone was going to need to roll up the proverbial sleeves and pitch in to help. So cutting into the high school sports schedule seemed appropriate, even if at best it might save $10 million spread across nearly 800 school districts and private schools.

   Well, 20 lashes with a wet noodle for me.

   Town and county tax bills are still climbing. School taxes are still climbing. The band of thieves in Albany otherwise known as the governor, senate and assembly raised taxes and fees at every turn. They apparently never got the message about sharing the pain. A good number of them are currently under indictment or investigation for various shenanigans. Several literally belong in prison, manufacturing the new license plates they tried to make us purchase in yet another money grab.

   They're shameless and useless, with plenty of spinelessness thrown in for good measure. They're incapable of passing a sensible budget. Sure, there have been some layoffs and even a reduction or elimination of some services and programs, including the Empire State Games. And the state budget has still grown sharply because they don't want to make the tough decisions.

   We're still paying more and kids are still playing less.

   And it's going to stay that way through at least June of 2012 after Tuesday's nearly unanimous vote to extend the schedule reductions.

   It provides cover for superintendents and school boards, letting them make very small slices into the expense side of the budget without having to justify it to voters. And that's the aspect I despise the most, as I explained on a local radio talk show yesterday.

   Two years ago, I attended a school board meeting in my town because I'd heard the AD was being forced out of his job. Before that topic came up for discussion, there was a parade of students, parents and teachers to the microphone begging the board to save music classes that were on the chopping block in the upcoming budget.

   There must have been at least 25 people pleading their case at that meeting alone, and God only knows how many others spoke at prior or subsequent board meetings.

   By the end of the process, most if not all of the classes were restored to the budget.

   There was no such deluge and reprieve for sports for the simple reason that there was no local discretion involved. The matter of scaling back schedules was settled by a few dozen people at the state level. Don't even try calling those voters "representatives" because you and I and thousands of affected athletes across the state weren't genuinely represented in that vote.

   A year from now, NYSPHSAA officials will reconvene to vote on whether the schedule reductions will remain in place for the 2012-13 school year.

   I'm imploring the people in charge to stand up and say enough is enough and let's go back to 20-game basketball seasons and 24-game baseball seasons.

   And if they can't bring themselves to do that much, then at least pass a motion supporting local choice. Let us decide at the sectional or league level. If the 1 sections can fomulate their own rules on transfers and the classification of private schools then they can certainly handle the responsibility of scheduling.

   Will that make a difference? Probably not entirely, but you just know that some leagues would do away with the reductions. And that would be a start.

   Fisher reaches 500: Numerous past players were on hand Tuesday in Davenport as 70-year-old Lee Fisher posted his 500th boys basketball victory.

   Davenport beat Worcester 52-28 in OT behind 27 points from junior Robert Meyerhoff in the first round of the Lee Fisher Tournament. The losing coach was Jim Kenyon, a
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guard on the 1970 team that Fisher beat for his firstSection 4 championship.

   Fisher coached Davenport from 1964 to 1990 and then returned in 2002. He's amassed eight sectional titles and three trips to the NYSPHSAA final four.

   "He does it the way it's supposed to be done," South Kortright coach Bob VanValkenburgh told The Daily Star. "Every team he's ever coached has been competitive and disciplined. It's not just wins and losses with him.

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He's a true gentleman."

   Davenport stormed to a 30-16 halftime lead and was up by 32-18 early in the third quarter when a fire alarm was activated and forced officials to begin evacuating the gymnasium.

   "I think Jimmy Kenyon pulled that fire alarm," Fisher joked. "Our kids went outside and cooled off and his kids walked the hallway and stayed warm."

   Worcester rattled off the first 15 points after the delay.

   National honor for F-M player: Fayetteville-Manlius senior Brian Ward has been named the Boys High School Scholar Athlete of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

   Ward, an All-Central New York selection, is the first player from New York to be honored with the award. To be nominated, a player must carry a 3.75 GPA and also be a standout on the field.

   Coping with grief: The New York Daily News told the story of Beach Channel boys basketball coach Jim Malone a few days ago, and it's a powerful read.

   Malone, 58 and in his 22nd season of coaching, lost two of his three daughters -- Jaime, 22, and Paige, 19 -- in an auto accident in July.

   A friend of Malone's daughters lost control of the sedan she was driving -- police believe another car had cut her off -- and the Honda Civic struck a tree, also killing the driver's older brother. All five passengers were en route to Camp Anchor, where they had worked for several summers as counselors for special-needs campers.

   Malone, wife Diane and their two surviving children have understandably struggled to cope since. Coaching golf and now basketball has given Jim Malone a brief escape each day.

   "Trying to teach it, put the team together and all the energy that goes into trying to get different kids, new kids, young kids to learn what we do . . . it occupies my thinking," he said. "It's been a haven to be busy. All the personalities and different kids, it's good to be around it."

   The town of Hempstead is donating $4 million to Camp Anchor, which is planning an indoor facility that will be named in honor of the three young people who died in the crash.

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