Those in favor argue that the statewide vote will make fairer for teams. Right now, some teams in Eastern Massachusetts have to play five games to get out of their section and move onto the state tournament. In Western Mass., some teams need to play just four games to win a state title.
Those against the argument have concerns over the seeding, which will be done using a formula developed by MaxPreps. Coaches have expressed concerns about scheduling (will stronger schools avoid playing smaller schools so their rating isn’t affected?), but the biggest sticking point has been travel. Coaches in Western Massachusetts and on Cape Cod worry that students will miss more school, and fans won’t be able to travel as often.
The Globe asked two athletic directors with differing viewpoints to explain why they are in favor or against the statewide measure.
Glenn Doulette, athletic director at West Springfield High School:
The state tournament proposal is not in the best interest of West Springfield High School’s students, programs and community.
The decision we made is filtered through the best interest of our student-athletes. The current proposal does not clearly define sectional championships; in fact, it charges the creation of them to the various sections with no direction, exemplars, and guidance within the framework of the proposed system.
The lack of clarity and support on the development of sectionals is a significant cause for concern. Winning a Western Mass. title is an accomplishment with historic and local “prestige” and lack of a realistic plan to maintain it is short sighted.
West Side school history shows that we have been successful at the sectional and state levels, but taking away sectionals will diminish what we feel is an experience that our student-athletes remember, cherish and value as much as they do the prestige of a state championship.
Ron Drouin, athletic director at Tewksbury High School:
I am in favor of the Statewide Tournament format, because the format puts schools where they belong based on enrollment. The situation we had in football a year ago, playing in the [Division 3] Super Bowl against Springfield Central is wrong! They are nearly 2.5 times bigger than us, and our current enrollment numbers are 842 total students.
The current football system is broken; teams do not play the same number of games, some divisions have a crossover game, and this format creates an equal playing field from a size perspective and the number of games needed to win the state championship.
Travel has been brought up quite a bit, and we have been traveling extensively especially with girls’ hockey. We had numerous trips to the Cape over the last four years; it is part of the deal. If you have good programs, travel comes with the territory.
As a smaller school in a larger-sized league [the Merrimack Valley Conference], I look forward to the flexibility I think it will create for all our teams.
Our stronger programs will be able to schedule whoever they choose, without much worry, and still accumulate a quality power ranking through MaxPreps. Our programs that struggle a bit have the option to schedule looking for 10 wins to qualify for postseason play.
I think it is the best of both worlds.