WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield was one of 183 membership schools of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to vote against an appeal to have football programs play to a group champion. The proposed changes would have extended the playoffs to determine an overall state champion.
Currently, the football season leads to playoffs and determines a champion in each of five groups, but does not narrow down to one single state champion. Two-hundred eighty one athletic directors voted on the issue at the NJSIAA’s annual business meeting in Edison Dec. 2.
“I want one state champion, but I would like to see a better proposal,” said Athletic Director Sandra Mamary, who cast Westfield’s vote.
According to Mamary, the proposed amendment would lengthen the season. Preseason would begin earlier in August and end in the third week of December. This proposal could also threaten the annual Thanksgiving game, she said, which is a time-honored tradition. (Westfield vs. Plainfield recently won “Best High School Football Rivalry in New Jersey” in USA TODAY’S 2013 competition because of that tradition. To read about that, click here.)
Mamary took other factors into consideration, as well. More athletes would be more likely to be injured due to the “wear and tear” from the expanded season, she said.
Mamary also explained that there would be an overlap in athletic seasons.
“The season would overlap into the winter season by three weeks. That means there would be less two- and three-sport athletes,” she said.
Finally, she took into account the economic impact, such as increase in coaching salaries and transportation expenses.
According to njsiaa.org, New Jersey is one of two states that does not play for an overall state champion.
“Personally I don't see why New Jersey has to change because other states do things different,” said Westfield High School Football Coach James DeSarno. “We play to sectional champions instead of group champs. What's wrong with that?”
For the next few years, at least, the rules and regulations will remain the same.