It appeared that all wrestlers would wear their school colors at the state tournament in February for the first time in recent memory after the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee decided in May of 2012 to eliminate Sectional uniforms for all sports.
Today, that changed. According to NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas, a 12-10 Committee vote dictated that Sectional uniforms will be allowed in all individual state championship sports “as long as no cost is incurred by the student, school or Section*.” In addition, he emphasized that the ruling means that Sectional singlets are permitted, but are not required.
The close vote was preceded by what Zayas called “a high quality discussion” which touched on a number of topics, including cost, tradition and the spectator experience at state championship events. In addition, there was talk about the need, particularly in wrestling, for a referee to be able to quickly identify what Sections the wrestlers are from to see whether he can officiate the match.
“I think all the different aspects of the uniform decision were discussed and everyone truly understood all the issues involved,” Zayas said. “In the end, it was a very close vote. I think it’s a vote that will be received very positively by the wrestling community. I enjoyed seeing the passion in New York for wrestling and the strength and interest of the wrestling community.”
That strength and interest was demonstrated by the petition started in December by Tim Herman, the Editor of armdrag.com. Discussions of that petition can be found here and here. Ultimately, close to 1300 people signed the online document.
“When I heard the uniform issue was back on the table, I knew that there was a good chance it’d be overturned,” Herman said. “I’m not sure if the petition had anything to do with it, but it certainly spread like wildfire and must’ve turned some heads. Thanks to a passionate wrestling community, we reached 1,000 signatures within a few days. Not long after, rumors of a revote began to circulate. I’m optimistic that all Sections will find a way to provide their wrestlers singlets, but we’ll have to wait and see. I realize that money is an issue for some, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Some Sections already have a solution in place where cost is not an issue. Let’s hope others will follow suit and that we’re not revisiting this issue year after year.”
Whether the Sections decide to wear their traditional state tournament uniforms or have their wrestlers compete in their school singlets remains to be seen. But on Tuesday, a number of wrestlers expressed excitement about the outcome of the NYSPHSAA meeting.
“It was disappointing to everyone [when the decision was announced] because wearing that Sectional singlet and getting that Sectional gear is something that everyone looks forward to,” said returning state champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville. “It’s really exciting now.”
“It means a lot to me to represent Section 4,” added Johnson City junior Reggie Williams, the top ranked 195-pounder in the state, echoing the sentiments of several others. “Anyone can wear a school singlet but wearing the Sectional singlet means a lot more. I was really upset when I heard we wouldn’t be able to wear the Section singlets and I’m really happy that changed.”
* When asked about the cost stipulation mentioned above, Zayas said that there would likely be some questions or discussion on what is and isn’t permissible.