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Let's have (second semester) football and ignore CIAC

There is the caveat: If the COVID metrics allow. Yes. You can't form a sentence any longer without "if the COVID metrics allow."

But that — yes, that and only that — should be the lone obstacle toward giving the kids of Connecticut a high school football season in the second semester.

Translation: The CIAC's musings on the subject are no longer relevant. If we want a high school football season, we will get a high school football season. Period. The schools have the power. They should use it.

Ledyard assistant principal/athletic director Jim Buonocore has become high school sports' Voice Of Reason, not just here in our corner of the world but across Connecticut. He spoke passionately Friday of reactivating the movement among member schools about a second semester football season.

"We would need the (CIAC) Board of Control to change course and give approval," Buonocore said.

And this is where I get off the train.

We no longer need the Board of Control for a blessed thing.

If the member schools want football, they will have football. They can create their own schedule, make their own rules and play any way they'd like — provided COVID metrics allow. The CIAC, its Board of Control and everything else associated with it is moot. Because the member schools have all the power. Not some power. All of it.

Hand coach Steve Filippone told GameTimeCT that his football proposal would begin preseason workouts Feb. 22, as winter sports move into the postseason. A four-game season would precede mid-April playoffs.

Buonocore said the ECC has potential plans to play football between winter and spring "so our kids don't have to choose between (seasons) ... You're talking about a small/medium-type of school league. We rely on the multiple-sport athletes."

Not only do both ideas have merit, but they do not need CIAC approval. We can do this ourselves. Because the member schools say so. Once again: Nobody is beholden to CIAC. Member schools are free to create another entity. Maybe a CIAC-free second semester football season is the starting point.

The member schools' slow secession from CIAC is underway. The Hartford Courant and GameTimeCT ran stories Friday quoting superintendents across the state as saying they would follow Department of Public Health guidelines about football — and not CIAC. Hence, many districts would not have been participating in football anyway because DPH never approved 11 v 11 for the fall.

I emailed local superintendents Jay Hartling (Ledyard), Cynthia Ritchie (New London), Jeff Newton (East Lyme) and Tom Giard (Waterford) on Friday. They were kind enough to respond and wrote similarly, saying they'd follow DPH guidelines, not CIAC.

If the same superintendents across Connecticut get behind second semester football, we will have football. Whether it's CIAC-sanctioned is irrelevant. Because the CIAC is becoming irrelevant. And the CIAC will stay irrelevant so long as the member schools are united.

We need new leadership. The CIAC cannot handle the responsibility.

Remember: The Board of Control last month ignored the recommendations of its own football committee (move football to the spring) even before receiving the latest input from DPH. It was a deadly combination of heedless and hubris.

Remember: The kids found out in the middle of the school day on social media in March that the basketball tournaments were suddenly canceled. And they found out Friday in the middle of the school day on social media there would be no 11 v 11. How professional.

There is opportunity here to start running high school sports with competence, compassion and sophistication. Football in 2021 is a great place to begin.

I understand there is disagreement with the DPH's recommendations that do not support fall football. Once again: Unless you are a scientist or have an "M.D." at the end of your name, I'm not interested in your dime store epidemiology. You know nothing. I know nothing. And so we lean on the people whose job it is to advise us.

This is what I know: If we want football, we'll get football. If the metrics allow. It's the metrics and only the metrics that can stop us.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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