Football Merger Is A Good Start

The Bemus Point Central School Board of Education should forget the boos.

In choosing to merge the high school football team for one year with Chautauqua Lake Central School, board members did the right thing – regardless of what those in the audience thought after the decision was made.

Maple Grove is one of the best football programs in this end of the state thanks to the atmosphere created by Curt Fischer, his assistant coaches and the district’s midget football program. That winning atmosphere is what Maple Grove district residents want to protect, but it’s hard to protect a winning tradition if you don’t have enough players to field a team.

Both Chautauqua Lake and Maple Grove find themselves in the same situation. Declining enrollments have cut the number of youth playing football to the point both schools might not have had enough players to field teams. Junior varsity players who aren’t physically ready faced the possibility of playing varsity football against upperclassmen who are more physically developed, a situation that only increases the risk of injury. Without more players, both schools faced the possibility of having to forfeit games next season for lack of healthy players.

Both administrations did the right thing knowing some of their constituents won’t be happy about it. Area residents should probably get used to these types of discussions. After all, declining enrollments have already forced the merger of several sports programs throughout the region. Sooner or later, these discussions will be about more than just sports teams and making sure there are enough healthy bodies to field a football team.

These type of consolidations, including possibly school mergers, should and will happen in the future, but should only happen when and if it makes sense.

Cooler heads prevailing this week is a good start.