The Minnesota State High School League held a meeting on Monday to discuss possible ways to cut costs for high school sports during these difficult economic times. One of the proposals on the table was the possibility of cutting the high school hockey season from 25 down to 20 games. The shortened schedule would theoretically cut down on travel costs for out-state teams. I had talked earlier about how potentially bad that decision could be for Minnesota high school hockey.
The Star-Tribune's John Millea blogged from the meeting. A motion passed that no changes be made to the maximum amount of games, but the topic will be revisited again when the board meets again on April 9.
It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. Two weeks ago, FSN's Anthony LaPanta interviewed a member of the state high school board, and asked him straight out about reducing the number of games, and the effect it would have on possibly sending players to the NTDP or USHL rather than high school. The board members response was a rambling, nonsensical answer about players choosing between football and basketball. All I could think was, "Wow, they really don't understand what is going on here, and they're going to end up screwing this up."
Whether it is yesterday's story about Mahoning Valley or elsewhere, the USHL is likely going to be expanding in the very near future, meaning demand for top players from Minnesota will be going up. If cuts keep getting made to high school hockey, what's going to be left to keep them around?
On the other hand, tough decisions will probably have to made if the money isn't there, and none of the other options seem that desirable. Increased ticket prices? Maybe. But that would push away more casual viewers. The only high school games I'd pay $10+ to see are teams that aren't going to be in financial trouble anyway. No out-of-state travel? That doesn't really cut costs for schools like LaCrescent if they can't make the short trip across the border to Wisconsin. Eliminate one sectional game? Maybe, but that doesn't cut costs much.
Something will probably have to be done. Let's just hope they can find a solution that makes things work financially for smaller schools, while keeping the state's best players at home.