The “too” Long Season

The Silver Pigskin Gala committee was called into emergency session this week when it was brought to our attention that 11 CIF state bowl games were scheduled for Saturday December 18th, the same night as our 18th annual Gala. With visions of an empty podium and hanger bay in my head, we quickly decided to find another date.  But not before commenting on a football season that never seems to end.

It should be obvious to all that, I am a big proponent of high school football and the CIF. It’s my hope to play a part in helping grow the sport and to serve as an unrequested but impartial watchdog to its governing body.

Today, modern football is under assault from a variety of factions who think it is too dangerous and puts our youth at danger. But, as I’ve written in more than one of these blogs, attempting to legislate all the risk out of our kid’s lives is a study in futility.

Give the CIF credit for responding to parents’ concerns. Practices have been shortened and contact restricted, the rule book is always under review in hopes of making this contact sport as safe as possible.

And yet in 2016, the San Diego High School football season ends 8 days before Santa’s sleigh takes off. Some schools will play 16 games in 2016, a full NFL regular season.  That is a lot of football, especially in light of all the concerns about contact and growing bodies.

But, like most controversial subjects there is another side to this story. For most schools (and for the CIF) football is the money maker that supports the entire athletic budget. Once you start chipping away at the “golden goose”, there are repercussions felt somewhere down the line.

So that’s where my conversation started with San Diego CIF Commissioner Jerry Schneipp, former Morse High coach, John Shacklett and former Helix Charter coach, Troy Starr.

Is it the season too long?

John Shacklett:

I think so. The season is a semester long, with fewer teachers coaching, for the athletes, the pressure to succeed academically is even greater. Player safety should be a lone concern. 15 to 16 games is too many.

Commissioner Jerry Schneipp:

It is a long season for a select few teams. 6% (6 teams) of San Diego Section teams have the potential to play more than 14 games. Last year we had 4 teams play 15 games; none played 16.  

Is it hypocritical for the CIF to talk about player safety on one hand, and then endorse a potential 16 game season?

Commissioner Jerry Schneipp:

Before the new bowl structure was adopted, years of discussion took place with the medical advisory committee which includes some of the most prominent medical professionals in California. How much is too much was discussed at length. The strong opinion of this committee was that it is not the number of games that is the issue it is the amount of contact in practice. Numerous rules were changed and coach’s practices have changed that limit contact Monday through Thursday more than ever.  

The decision to extend the season appears to be a “money grab” on the CIF’s part. More than one coach has told me off the record that hosting a CIF playoff game can be a losing proposition?

Commissioner Jerry Schneipp:

Last year, the 1st year of new bowl structure, the state income for football was $668,762.  Expenses were $651,782. The state pays for the team travel, hotel and food. Our schools say the reimbursements aren’t enough and I get that-they never are. But expenses, just like income went up significantly with the addition of the new games and the vast majority of income went back to schools.  

Troy Starr:

It all depends on the size of your crowd. In the early rounds bad weather or play a school that doesn’t travel well and you’re lucky to break even.

Does the addition of all these divisions and extra bowl games dilute the phrase “Champion”?

Troy Starr:  Probably, but I’ve also witnessed what a “title” does for a school that isn’t accustom to winning one. I’ve never big a big proponent of the “everybody gets a trophy” community, but I prefer to focus on the positive than the negative aspects of it.

Commissioner Jerry Schneipp:

I think you should ask Rancho Bernardo and Mater Dei if they felt that last year they won a diluted state championship.  I think sometimes to the observer, it may seem diluted. I see it as an opportunity for kids that wouldn’t have otherwise been there. There are state championships in every state in the country and we’ve had them for many years in basketball, volleyball, track, etc. Before the change, there were 51 section football champions throughout California. Only 18 were selected to play at the state level so we often heard (and went to court) about why teams didn’t get to advance. Now all section champions get to play in the state tournament. 

We all agree the season is too long. How does is get shorter?

Commission Jerry Schneipp:

In 2018, the bowl games will be moved up one week. As part of the discussion to move these, we have been, and will be, having discussions about shortening the season, eliminating the bye, playing fewer games, etc. All of this, as always, will be thoroughly discussed and as always, voted on by our schools.

John Shacklett:

Lop off a chunk of the non-conference schedule. 9 game limit. But remember, doing that is going to cause financial issues somewhere else.

Troy Starr:

I agree with Shack. 9 game regular season. 

A big thank-you to Commissioner Schneipp and the PPR coaching staff for always helping me with this blog. I almost forgot, the 2016 Silver Pigskin Gala is moving to Tuesday December 6th.


Paul W. Rudy


Categories: 2014 PPR Archive, 2015 PPR Archive, 2016 Hog Blog, 2016 PPR Features Part 1, 2016 PPR Features Part 2