Monday, February 11, 2013

MIAA is ruining Swimming!

I started swimming at 6 competitively including a HS career in USA swimming and swimming in college. Now, I am a HS swim coach and with the coming blizzard last weekend the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) decided to cancel the Sectionals swim meet. After working all season I had to look swimmers in the face and tell them- sorry since you didn't make states and only made sectionals you are done. This is what we received from the MIAA:

Due to the impending snowstorm, all Boys’ and Girls’ Sectional
Swimming  and Diving Championships, scheduled for this weekend, have
been CANCELLED.   We regret that facility and time constraints
prohibit the re-scheduling of these events.

All State qualifiers will move forward to the State Championships on
the weekend of February 16 & 17.  Best of luck to all.

As coaches on Thursday afternoon, we sat around thinking of a million possible solutions. Some of the coaches even called the MIAA. Then word quickly spread that the West was going to host their own "unsanctioned" by the MIAA Sectionals. Since the MIAA told them they wouldn't support it, meaning any times that made the state cut would not count. MIAA offered a bit further explanation on their decision making process: 

Dear Select School Leaders,

The need, perhaps unprecedented, to cancel the MIAA Sectional Swim Tournaments deserves explanation. Consideration was given to many elements before such a difficult decision was made.

The bottom line to this decision is the safety of students, and there is no way we could ensure their safety on Thursday when this decision had to be made.  We are mindful that power outages could make it impossible to communicate with you this weekend if we needed to do so.  There still is (on Friday morning) no assurance that any event could be safely conducted this weekend, given the enormity of the storm predictions. 

While considering this challenge, the option of postponing the Sectional and State Meets by a week was explored. Problems presented as that avenue was pursued, included the unavailability of sites for the second weekend, and the recognition that high school teams without school pools would be at a disadvantage during that extended week because their contracted pool time would have ended, and they would not have access to practice.

Consideration was given to inviting all Sectional qualifiers to participate in the State Championships. As that option was considered, it was clear that the logistics presented could not be overcome.  During this winter season, more than 1,000 students already have achieved their State qualifying standard and will participate next weekend, making the addition of 100s of students impractical.

Thought was given to inviting seniors who only had qualified for the Regionals, but not the State Championships. Because qualifying times in the West and East are markedly different, this was not a fair option.

Consideration for allowing some state qualifying competition to occur at a school level, or other local activity was seen to be unfair to those student athletes who would not have such an additional opportunity.  On the other hand, the Association encourages such local competitions for students who did not have the opportunity to participate in the MIAA regional tournaments this weekend (with the above understanding that  these activities are not state championship qualifying events)

With regard to Springfield College and a possible Sunday event, there was no assurance that the lack of parking could be overcome, with the shuttle bus company reporting that they may not be allowed on the road Sunday, given the potential seriousness of the storm. We also are aware that some school districts have cancelled all activities through Sunday, making Sunday participation not an option for those students.

We of course regret that we could not provide your students additional competition through our planned regional events.  I do hope the above provides some understanding of the decisions that were made in the interest of student safety, equity, and the integrity of the sport.

Monday at 4pm State entries were due to the MIAA.  I made sure my entries were in with plenty of time. Then we receive this message: 

The concerns forwarded by some of our school leaders in response to the  cancellation of Sectional Swim Tournaments have caused further consideration of the conclusions of last Thursday and Friday. With the support of our Swim Committee/Tournament leadership, we will be entering all of your individual swimmers as they were listed on the psych sheets for this past weekend’s Sectional Tournaments. WMass divers have already qualified during the MIAA tournament last Thursday. North and Central-South divers who have achieved one (versus two) state qualifying scores (boys 190; girls 177) will also be entered into the State Tournament.

There will be some questions or concerns related to this decision, but we believe that it is the best manner of providing tournament access to the maximum number of students possible. During the week, we will need your cooperation in some areas;  e.g. we will need to limit attendance at the Springfield College site.
Additional information will be forwarded this week as it is developed by our swim leadership.

Immediately I notified my sectionals swimmers they would be swimming- but only those who qualified in individual events. The team in our pool that has a relay that qualified, that hasn't practiced for 5 days is still out as far as they know. The MIAA has made a mess of the swim tournaments- something that is supposed to be the highest competition for these HS swimmers. I am awaiting what the next step will be in this process. Not only do we not know what events our swimmers are swimming that qualified in multiple events but now we are told to limit the attendance to States?!  I am glad the kids get a chance to swim but come on MIAA?!

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