Mount Desert Island High School seems likely to make a major change in its football program. Athletic administrators in the Maine Principals Association committees have been working on a proposal for 8-man football for years now.
Politicians always claim to have “putting students first” as their priority in education decisions. These administrators are doing just that, even though they know the proposed shift is unpopular with some die-hard fans.
The MPA and related organizations promote high school athletics as a benefit for students, but also as an affordable way for Maine families to attend live sporting events for entertainment. Surely the former is more important.
Student athletes can learn the lessons, as one parent put it, of “physical and mental wellness, teamwork, camaraderie and discipline” just as well with fewer players on the field. Better, if you count the fact that MDI will likely be able to field a JV team under the 8-man proposal, providing more students more playing time. Many other states have made the switch to 8-man for high school programs, and those programs have nurtured college and professional players.
As far as fans are concerned, if the community allows the air to be let out of their school and team spirit because it’s “not real football,” that will be a self-fulfilling prophesy. If, on the other hand, the school and community recognize they have the ability to make magic under Friday night lights whatever the logistics, everyone will benefit.