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Archive for March 13, 2021

March 13, 2021 — What is the MIAA thinking?

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association announced rules and regulations regarding sports in the spring season, including some new — and troublesome — dictates regarding girls’ lacrosse.

Now, I recognize that the MIAA is given to going it alone in some rules, especially some really daft ones. In the mid-1990s, the public-school governing body mandated helmets for girls’ lacrosse players. For a time, field hockey players in Massachusetts could score from anywhere on the pitch instead of having to limit shot attempts to within 16 yards of goal.

In this, the COVID era, the Massachusetts rulesmakers showed how little they know about field hockey when they came up with their rules package. They mandated 7-on-7 field hockey for a full 60 minutes, without thinking about shortening the game or shortening the field to compensate. No other sport last fall — soccer, tennis, etc. — had reduced-side play to encourage social distancing.

In lacrosse, there’s an interesting change when it comes to the timing of the game. In a nod to some of the proposed Olympic rules, lacrosse in Massachusetts is being restructured to four 12 1/2-minute quarters rather than two 25-minute halves. This change, however, does not make epidemiological sense. The only reasons you would want to break up halves into quarters is to either limit team timeouts (the reason that field hockey has done this in the NCAA) or to add commercials (which is why FIH did the same).

In addition, there is a pretty harsh series of disciplinary rubrics. If a player steps in the direction of an umpire with the intent to dispute a call, that player is handed a yellow card. If a player comes within six feet of the umpire while dissenting, the player is red-carded and sent off. No other sport in the MIAA has this level of enforcement.

But the one galling regulation is this one:

To the extent possible, it is recommended that schools play only one opponent per week.

I call on the MIAA board and girls’ lacrosse committee to either alter, disavow, or repeal this sentence. It hearkens back to the first half of the 20th Century when it was openly questioned whether girls’ sports at the scholastic level would either change their gender or make them unsuitable to be good wives.

No other sport in Massachusetts has this recommendation. Indeed, as far as I know, no other state governing body has this kind of recommendation for any sport with the exception of football.

And frankly, no way this is going to happen. Today’s female lacrosse player often plays multiple games over the course of a summer day during a tournament, sometimes in 90-degree temperatures.

They can adapt. It’s time the MIAA does the same.