The ticketing process for the upcoming Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Winter Swimming and Diving State Tournaments has just been announced. This year’s plan may mark the first time in a long time that Massachusetts swim fans do not see their post-season darkened by a shroud of controversy.
Before we spell out this year’s ticket plan, let’s revisit what has transpired over the past several post-seasons within the MIAA to put its swim community in a relatively hostile resting state.
First, back in 2011 there was an MIAA rule stating that “when a sport is only offered for one gender, then the opposite gender must be allowed to participate”. This well-meaning gender-equity rule seemed simple enough, but the kink was that Massachusetts offered two swim seasons at the time – a “winter season for both boys and girls” and a “fall season for just girls”.
This led to girls racing boys for Sectional and State Championships at the high school level. In fact, a boy was merely one tenth from being named the 2011 Girls’ State Champion in the 50 freestyle. The MIAA later made the decision to hold both a boys’ and a girls’ tournament indefinitely, which, with Massachussett’s extremely limited pool space brought problems of its own.
Then, in 2012, there was a highly debated issue where the MIAA took away a SectionalTitle form one of the state’s top high school programs, Gardner HIgh School, declaring that “it appears that MIAA championships earned by [the Gardner] teams over the years, if this past year is any indication, were achieved by a non-school “club team” rather than an education based high school team.” Gardner was dealt a two-year suspension as a result.
Jump to 2013 to yet another controversy, where the MIAA initially decided to cancel their Sectional Championship meets due to an impending monster snow storm; a decision which would essentially render meet-less those teams who had planned to hit their tapers and make their qualifying state times at Sectionals, as well as those swimmers simply targeting Sectionals as their end of season meet. A few days after that original announcement, the MIAA attempted to rectify the situation by allowing all swimmers who were entered on Sectional psych sheets to swim at the State Championship meet.
Frustration for Massachusetts high school swimming continued in 2014 when fans and family members of state championship swimmers found themselves hard-pressed to even find tickets to watch the big show. The state meet was held last year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center, a facility that held just 450 seats, whereas the site of the 2013 championship meet at Harvard sat 1200 spectators – a roughly 62 percent reduction in seating.
Additionally, to combat crowds, the MIAA instilled a two-ticket-per-order rule with tickets were offered via online purchasing. Many were suspicious that the order threshold was even enforced, as tickets sold out in five minutes, leaving many swimmer friends and family members in embittered dust.
For the upcoming state meet in 2015, however, the MIAA hopes its revised ticket policy sets things right for its swim community. In a ticketing plan announced this week, in an effort to ensure that at least one person per family can attend the event, each school will receive an allotted number of tickets PRIOR to an online sale. Specifically, each swimmer entered in at least one individual event receives ONE ticket. Further, swimmers in multiple events are still allotted just ONE ticket prior to the online sale.
This year’s snag, however minute, may come via the rule that indicates relays also earn just ONE ticket as a whole – not one ticket for each member of the relay. As such, if any relay swimmers are not entered in individual events, it is still not guaranteed that he/she will secure a spectator ticket to the state meet.