September 11, 2002
Nobody asked, but........
By TOM WILLIAMS
Another high school football season is getting underway this week and a few things have changed.
For the first time since the Cape-Atlantic League was formed in 1949 it will play without Wildwood, which
withdrew and joined the Tri-County Conference. That change dropped Middle Township back down into the
National Conference. And Buena swapped places with Hammonton, moving Hammonton up into the
American Conference for the first time.
There is a beautiful new school in Hammonton; completed expansions at Absegami, Middle Township and
Egg Harbor Township; the start of new construction at Ocean City and Lower Cape May; and new football
lights at Vineland, Hammonton and St. Augustine.
The NJSIAA members will vote on a new proposal in December that could create more changes in
2003-04. It would balance the alignment of groups for NJSIAA tournaments. Some South Jersey schools,
like Willingboro and Pennsauken, may be moved to Central Jersey. No CAL school needs to worry about
becoming a Central Jersey team in the tournaments but the proposal could move teams up to a larger
group. For example, Mainland, Middle Township and Hammonton are all possibilities to advance a group
under the new alignment – Mainland to Group 4, Middle and Hammonton to Group 3.
These are changes that either have been made or are being strongly considered. But here are a few other
ideas that would be good to consider.
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: There are two Saturday night football games in the CAL this fall.
Cardinal O’Hara visits Absegami this Saturday and Absegami at Atlantic City on Nov. 9. Though these
games are being played somewhat out of necessity, it seems like a good idea for the CAL to have a
Saturday Night Game of the Week, similar to the Shore Conference. Only Ocean City and St. Joseph
now play all of their games in daylight and St. Joe expects to put up lights before next season. OC could
follow when its new school opens in 2004. Instead of forcing fans to pick one game each week, why not
give them a second game on Saturday night.
A MEET THAT MEANS SOMETHING: The CAL added league meets in both cross country and track over
the last few years, which is a good thing. But the meets have no meaning within the league, which is bad.
Sometimes entire teams decline to compete in these meets. Why not give these meets some meaning?
Make the CAL runoff in cross country part of the meet. Or make the results count in all star voting. There
were a couple good races in the track meet last year but, all in all, there should be more. If the meets had
some meaning there would be.
WRESTLING CHANGE: The NJSIAA determines the teams that compete in its team tournament by the
point system developed by the Wrestling Coaches Association. Last year it almost eliminated Absegami.
Though it isn’t generally clear how the system works, it is perfectly clear that it doesn’t work very well.
When your system almost eliminates the best team in the state, It is time for some changes.
MORE SEEDS NEEDED: The most common system of selecting teams is the one used to select the
basketball tournament teams. You need a .500 record by the February deadline. While we’ve always
favored returning to the old system of allowing all teams to compete, that doesn’t seem to be on the
agenda anytime soon. So, at least seed the top four teams in each sectional group by using a seeding
committee that takes all factors into consideration. Like the committee that seeds the state champions
for the Tournament of Champions. Instead of going purely by won-lost records and encouraging teams to
play beatable opponents, reward teams for playing a tough schedule. They do it in tennis, why not
HERE’S YOUR RECEIPT: Last spring there were too many athletes disqualified or confused by the
registration system at the South Jersey and state track meets. On more than one occasion, a coach
claimed the forms were turned in but the registering official said no. The answer? Give the coach or athlete
a receipt when the registration forms are submitted. Then there will be no arguments. Or, at least, fewer
HOLIDAY CURFEWS: New Jersey schools are not permitted to play basketball games on three
consecutive days. It is a rule that makes sense. With one exception – during the Christmas holidays.
There are no classes and athletes have plenty of time to rest and recover. Many of the nation’s top
tournaments require a school to play three straight days. Lets waive that regulation during the Christmas
There you have a half-dozen changes that might make high school sports even better. Nobody asked, but...................
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