Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – By a narrow vote of 6 to 5, the state’s athletic section officials approved a new policy for combining sports teams. It creates a formula for enrollment so the new teams would – in most cases – stay in their own divisions and not have to move up to much higher competition levels.
It may seem like Central New York schools have plenty of athletic opportunities for kids, but tighter budgets and declining enrollments are making it tougher for districts to offer everything they want. Current rules make combining teams less appealing.
"What did we have, three kids last year from Lafayette, the state says we have to bump up a class, that was pretty disappointing. But now, with these new regulations out it looks like its going to be a lot more fair,” said OCS junior Jason Palmowksi.
It seems there will now be more appropriate competition levels for Jason’s baseball team, which combined with LaFayette last season and had to move up a division. For sophomore Therese Guy, who just moved into the OCS district, there’s a chance at returning to her passion on a new team that doesn’t exist at OCS now.
“I thought OCS might have a swim team, but when I came back here after moving I realized they didn't, so I joined the varsity soccer team and right now I'm running indoor track and field,” Therese told NewsChannel 9.
“The door is open to have those discussions with neighboring teams to maintain our level of competition, to encourage kids to participate. It'll rebuild youth leagues; it'll rebuild the modified teams. Now that they know there's a much better chance, we'll have that at the JV and Varsity level,” said OCS Superintendent Joe Rotella.
Onondaga Central, right now, has football, but they have no boy’s soccer. The new rule that's going into place may allow the district to look at neighboring programs to give boys the chance to play soccer.
"I think our participation rate will increase over the next couple years because of this. It's not for athletic advantage but its now these kids have a neighboring school they can join in with that team and still play the sport they love,” explained John Rathbun, Section III Executive Director.
The school sees it as a great way to balance budgets, academics and athletics.
The new policy begins this fall and is in effect for two years.