Sectional Singlets Are Allowed: NYSPHSAA Vote Reverses Decision

Sectional singlets are back.

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.”

 

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* 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.

Update on Sectional Singlets at States: NYSPHSAA Executive Director Discusses the Petition

A few days ago, a petition was posted asking the NYSPHSAA to bring back Sectional singlets for the 2013 state tournament.  (In May, Sectional uniforms were eliminated for all sports in New York).  As of 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening, over 815 people had signed that petition.

New York Wrestling News spoke to one of the people the petition is addressed to, Robert Zayas, the Executive Director of the NYSPHSAA, to understand his response to the petition and to get his input on what can be done for those looking to bring the singlets back.

 

New York Wrestling News (NYWN): I’m sure you are aware of the petition going on now to bring the Section singlets back.  What is your reaction to that petition?

Robert Zayas (RZ): Yes, I am definitely aware.  I appreciate the passion people have for the sport of wrestling here in New York.  I have received several hundred e-mails as have members of my staff.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a say in whether the singlets come back or not.  The Executive Committee made the decision back in May and therefore any change will have to come from that committee.

NYWN: Who makes up the Executive Committee?

RZ: There are two representatives from each Section.  If there will be a change, it will come from them.  We really are a grassroots organization, which is bottom up, rather than top down.  If the Sections come together and say that they want this change, it might be possible.  But if it’s only a few Sections, it probably won’t happen.

NYWN: When is the next Executive Committee meeting?

RZ: The next meeting is January 29.

NYWN: Let’s take a step back.   In May 2012, the uniform change was approved.  The language from the meeting notes was “Approved the elimination of Section uniforms in all sports and therefore requiring athletes to wear their school uniforms at State Championships even if a sponsor provides them.” Why was that last part about the sponsors specifically added?

RZ: I think it was to make sure things are fair and consistent across all sports.  Some sports have the ability to get a sponsor or sponsors to provide those uniforms and some don’t.

NYWN: So if booster clubs or donors came together and bought singlets, would they be permitted?

RS: I believe those would not be permitted at this time.

NYWN: In the October Executive Committee notes, a Section representative brought up the fact that wearing Section uniforms could be beneficial from a safety perspective.  The quote from the meeting notes was: “The Safety Committee agrees the wearing of Section uniforms at the State Wrestling Championships would improve the efficiency and time in which the appropriate medical personnel could respond to an injured athlete.”  What was the outcome of that discussion?

RS: That was presented at the October meeting.  The Executive Committee did not approve the proposal.

NYWN:  Since the elimination of Section uniforms was made across all sports, do you think a change is possible in a single sport like wrestling or do you think it would have to be made across the board?

RZ: Other sports have brought this issue up as well.  Cross country is one of them. But in the end, it’s completely up to the Executive Committee.

NYWN: Some of the arguments made for returning to the Sectional singlets are the years and years of tradition and the ability for family, fans and media to be able to follow the action in Albany.  Are there other impacts you see?

RZ:  It is obviously a big tradition here in New York and I have heard many people talk about how it will change viewing the tournament from the stands.  We also will need to make some changes with the referees because in the past, they could quickly look at the Section singlets, make sure there weren’t wrestlers from their Section competing and referee that match.  We’ll have to come up with a method for officials to quickly see that the wrestlers about to compete are not part of their Section.

NYWN: So, for those who want their voices to be heard on this issue, what should they know?

RZ: The Executive Committee made the change. My understanding is that cost was the focus of the decision.  They’ll need reasons to reverse the decision.  I don’t mind hearing the passion and perspectives of the member schools and constituents on this issue.  But I don’t have the ability to overturn this and neither do a number of others on the petition.  The people who want their voices heard should make sure their opinions are heard by the Section representatives.

NYWN: Thank you.

Further information on the Executive Committee is available here.