High School: Latest football proposal fails to address the Thanksgiving conundrum

A new football proposal for the 2021 season was presented at Tuesday’s MIAA Football Committee meeting. The proposal would alter the current regular season and playoff model.

Under the proposed system, there would be a nine-game regular season schedule in which the top eight teams in each division would qualify for the postseason.

The playoffs would start the week after the regular season ends with the state title games scheduled for the first Saturday in December.

Under this proposed model, schools that don’t qualify for the playoffs would have the option of playing a consolation game as a tenth game before Thanksgiving. The game would be scheduled by the schools themselves, not by the football committee like in past years.

If schools choose not to play a consolation game, they would have a bye week and not play again until Thanksgiving.

The problem with that is, it would be three weeks between the week 9 game and Thanksgiving. That is too long a layoff for some coaches to stomach.

My reaction to this proposal is that it is better than what we currently have but I don’t love it. While it addresses the issue of the consolation games, it doesn’t help make Thanksgiving games relevant. Which is an issue for the MHSFCA. Interest in the games has been waning in recent years due to various factors. One of the most notable factors is the lack of playoff implications. Thanksgiving has in essence become a glorified exhibition.

The Connecticut Proposal, which has been presented to the MIAA on several occasions by Milton coach Steve Dembowski is the still the best plan for high school football in Massachusetts. It will never happen however because winter coaches are crying foul and complaining about inequities. As a result, the plan is in limbo.

Extending the football season an extra week isn’t as big a deal as basketball and hockey coaches have made it but unfortunately, the powers that be lack the intestinal fortitude to do what’s right.

As a result, we will probably have to settle for something like this latest proposal which is an improvement but falls far too short when it comes to addressing Thanksgiving and the significance of the game.

The fight rages on. It remains to be seen what happens next. For now, high school football in Massachusetts remains in limbo and that is a shame.

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