What caused the MPA to put in the original sports season policy in the early 1970s?

One of the major reasons the Maine Principals’ Association installed their sports season policy in the early 70’s (when the MPA was the SPA, State Principals Association), was because some people were upset that high school basketball was still being played in late March and the first weekend in April.

The Bangor YMCA held the first undergrad basketball tournament in Maine in the mid 50’s.

High school coaches could coach their teams and the teams could practice. They could use school equipment and school uniforms. The tournament was single elimination and was started the week of the State Championship games for teams that were not playing in the State Games. The Tournament was held occasionally on week nights, for local teams and on Friday Evenings and Saturdays for teams that had to travel. Teams came from all over Eastern Maine to participate.

This tournament was over by the first weekend in April.

Some people thought that basketball was in competition with spring sports. Spring sports usually did not start until at least the third week of March and the basketball teams if they did practice did in the evening after spring sports practices during the afternoons after school.

In my opinion, there was no way that undergrad tournaments interfered with spring sports enough so it warranted a sports season rule.

The SPA listened to these people and installed their original sports season policy beginning in the early 70’s for post season activities.

This means that the undergraduate tournaments were held for almost 20 years. After the MPA Sports Season Policy was installed there was no organized basketball played until the summer programs which ran after school was out in the middle of June thru July and the first 2 weeks in August.

Those people who complained to the SPA in the early 70’s should have been very careful for what they wished for because they got what they wanted. What they wanted really has backfired on all the current non basketball coaches which include boys and girls baseball, softball, spring track, and tennis and the fall sports of football. field hockey, cross-country, soccer and golf now have to compete with basketball (and other non school sports) during their spring, winter and fall seasons.

AAU basketball started in 1991 and it filled the basketball void of about 18 years. Now there are four organizations MAC, MBR, MB Nation and Maine Hoops that run fall basketball programs on weekends and run programs as soon as the basketball season is over in February and compete for athletes in the spring thru February, March, April, May, and middle of June and then competes with high school summer basketball, in June and July.

Not only is basketball going full-time year round one way or another it sure is a lot more than that which bothered the people who complained about the 3 weeks in March and the first week in April in the late 60’s and early 70″s

Not only are athletes playing basketball during their fall or spring sports season, some are not competing at all as they are specializing on just basketball year round. Now this is a problem for fall and spring coaches not only because basketball is being played during their seasons, but there is the danger of injury and the danger of losing athletes that would really help their athletic programs.

I remember playing in the undergrad tournaments at the Bangor YMCA as a player in the mid 50″s and officiating in the tournament when I was playing in College in the 50’s.

I brought my Fort Fairfield High school team in the spring of 1962 to Bangor to play in this undergrad tournament. When I was coaching at Orono from 1962-69 our players always looked forward to playing in the Y’s undergrad tourney as soon as we were done with the MPA basketball. Back then we played in 3 state championship games so that we played until the first weekend of March. The tournament directors usually gave us a bye until the second weekend of the tournament. These undergrad tournaments were for just current freshmen, sophomores and juniors or 8th graders.

These were single elimination one and done tournaments. There was usually 2 divisions one for S and M and one for L prior to 1961 when the MPA went from 3 to 4 classes and LL was added.

My Orono teams with an enrollment of 275 played up in class L from M then and won several of the top division L and LL Bangor Y undergrad tournaments beating some of the top LL Teams entered. The first thing our players would ask after the State Championship Games were completed, was when do we play in the Bangor Y Tourney?

They really enjoyed being able to play the top Class LL Teams.

The players awards for winning these undergrad tournaments were individual one foot high trophies better than the little medal or gold balls they received for winning MPA State Championships.

Basketball used to start on the first Monday in November and that, competed with fall sports for 3 weeks or so, so the SPA squeezed the basketball season even more so that today they have only 3 weeks to get ready for the regular season for all sports in any season.

Not allowing coaches to coach, teams to use school equipment and uniforms is bad enough but not allowing high school players to play in organized non school events in their high school gymnasiums, but they can play in these tournaments in their middle school gyms is unnecessary.

After all they were built with federal, state and local taxes and not allowing outside groups to even rent them and then telling them who can or cannot play in these facilities is something that might want to be looked at by local school boards, school committees, board of trustees, Board of Directors, etc.

These decisions should be handled by local control and not the MPA. who have made a small problem into a bigger problem as far as basketball interfering with other school sports held in the fall and spring.

If you would like to suggest a subject for this column, e-mail it to mrp17@roadrunner.com. Also, check other new basketball items on my blog.