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Dec. 17, 2015 –Federalism, football, and field hockey

Today, USA Today wrote this.

While the debate in this story is about the fact that two states are choosing football champions this coming weekend, it is instructive to note the inequality amongst field hockey teams across the United States as well.

We’ll not do a map here, but we’ll outline the limits of regular seasons for field hockey circuits across America.

In the table below, we’ll separate out regular-season contests (RS), and how many games can be counted as an in-season tournament (IS). In most situations, tournaments count as two games even though a team may play in more than that amount of games, and in those situations, that would be indicated with a plus sign next to the IS number.

In other situations, if a team does not play an in-season tournament, then the opportunity is lost, and that would be indicated with a minus sign next to the IS number.

The next number is the maximum number of postseason games (PS) a team could play, based upon recent postseason competitions. Depending on the size of a bracket, that number may wind up being substantially less.

Totals will vary even within states because of bracket size and whether or not a team decided to play an in-season tournament. (NA=Not available)

Locale RS IS PS TOT
California (CIF Central Coast) 20 NA 4 22
California (CIF Southern Section) 20 2+  3 29
California (CIF San Diego) 20 2+*  4  31
Colorado  15 NA  3  18
Connecticut  16 NA 5 21
Delaware  15 NA 4 19
Illinois  18 NA** 5 23
Kentucky  14 NA** 6 20
Maine  14 NA 6 20
Maryland (MPSSAA)  12 2- 6 18
Maryland (IAAM)  14 2- 4 20
Massachusetts  18 NA 4 24
Michigan  16 NA 4 20
Missouri  22 2+** 4 26
New England (NEPSAC)***  — NA 4-5
New Hampshire  # NA 3-4
New Jersey 20 1+ ## 9 29
New York 16 NA 6 22
North Carolina (NCFHA)  # NA 4
North / South Carolina (NCISAA)  # NA 4
Ohio  16 NA 6 22
Pennsylvania (PIAA)  18 1+ 11 29
Pennsylvania (PAISAA)  # NA 4
Rhode Island 16 NA 3 19
Southern Prep Conference # NA 4
Virginia (VHSL) 16 NA 8 24
Virginia (VISAA)  # NA 3-4
Wisconsin  # NA 3

*–Serra Invitational is three games on consecutive weekends
**–Several states do not limit the number or size of in-season tournaments
***–NEPSAC schools vary in length of their schedule
#–Minimum within division; maximum as many as can be scheduled until end of season
##–Tournament maximum five games

The thing to notice is that by far the shortest regular season in the country is Maryland. It’s been something this site has been harping on for years, but it’s our intention to do something about it.

I don’t know whether it will be this legislative session or the next, but this site is going to take the lead in drafting a bill to change the limit on regular season games.

You see, it is not the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association that sets the schedule for scholastic sports; it is the state legislature.

If you read this story, you’ll notice how the legendary Lil Shelton was able to extend her considerable influence to get the legislature to add a single four-team invitational tournament to the schedule.

But that’s not enough. This is 2015, and female athletes in the Free State do not have to be held in cotton wool anymore. They play a skilled sport, mostly on artificial grass, in an era when some teams can play up to 29 games in a season in neighboring jurisdictions.

And, as we’ve pointed out occasionally, having just 12 games in a season leads to periods of the fall in which the players are just training against each other and have no interscholastic competition.

We’ll see what we can cook up in terms of an actual bill that we can get a legislator to sponsor.

At the same time, it may be a good time to examine whether there are other sports whose season lengths may need to be similarly adjusted to change with the times.

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