High School Athletic Association Policy Unfairly Punishes Armed Services Recruits

Michael F. Nozzolio

September 06, 2007

Albany – New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio is calling upon the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHAA) to revise current regulations so that high school football players who join the armed services are not unfairly punished when their military requirements keep them from participating in summer football practices.

Current regulations state that high school athletes must sit out the first three games of the football season if they do not participate in a minimum number of summer practices. Senator Nozzolio is calling for the NYSPHAA to make an exception for all high school students who have joined the National Guard and other armed services and whose duties to their country require them to miss summer practice.

“In a time when our armed services are desperately trying to find new recruits, I find it outrageous that the current policies of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association would penalize the brave young men and women who have chosen to serve their country,” said Senator Nozzolio. “It is unfair to punish these recruits and force prospective recruits to choose between serving their country and playing a full season of football.”

Senator Nozzolio was alerted to the NYSPHAA policy by South Seneca High School senior, Stephen Brewer. Last year, Stephen joined the New York National Guard and spent this past summer at Fort Benning in Georgia to successfully complete boot camp. Stephen was notified by the NYSPHAA that he would be ineligible for the first three games of the football season because he did not make the minimum amount of team practices during the summer.

“The current regulations mandating summer practices were enacted to ensure that players have the necessary amount of conditioning to prevent injuries once the season begins,” said Senator Nozzolio. “Recruits completing boot camp are in excellent physical condition and are fully prepared for the start of the High School football season.”

In a letter to Ronald Black, NYSPHAA President, Senator Nozzolio calls on the NYSPHAA to revise their existing regulations so that armed services volunteers are not penalized for their brave service and commitment to our country.

“The brave men and women who volunteer for our armed services should be praised for their sacrifice and dedication to protecting our nation’s freedom, and should never be punished for their service. The least that we can do to show our appreciation for these extraordinary students is to allow them to fully participate and enjoy their senior year. The current policy of the NYSPHAA should be changed immediately,” concluded Nozzolio.

Attached is Senator Nozzolio’s letter to Ronald Black, President of the NYSPHAA.


September 5, 2007

Ronald Black, President
N.Y.S.P.H.S.A.A. Inc.
8 Airport Park Boulevard
Latham, New York 12110

Dear President Black:

On behalf of my constituent, Stephen Brewer of South Seneca High School, I formally request that the New York State Public High School Athletic Association modify regulations which are unfairly prohibiting Mr. Brewer from participating in the first three games of this football season.

Stephen Brewer is an outstanding young man who voluntarily enrolled in the National Guard to defend our country. His entry in the National Guard required him to complete an intensive physical fitness program this summer. Mr. Brewer successfully completed the program, but his commitment to the National Guard required him to be in Georgia, making him unable to complete the minimum number of practices to compete in the first three games of the football season.

While I can certainly understand the need to ensure that all players are properly conditioned before being allowed to compete, the facts are that Mr. Brewer was completing the basic physical fitness camp of the National Guard in the sweltering summer heat of Georgia at Fort Benning.

Enclosed for your review is a summary of the nine-week boot camp schedule that all new recruits participate in. As you can see, boot camp training subjects recruits to vigorous physical training, including 10-15 km marches wearing full equipment.

When I played High School Football we often compared summer practices to boot camp. After reviewing the training schedule that Mr. Brewer followed this summer, I can assure you that actual boot camp is much more vigorous and demanding than summer football practices. Mr. Brewer is now prepared to serve his country and he will be deployed to serve in June of 2008. The ruling by the NYSPHSAA is not flexible enough to recognize the superior physical conditioning of Mr. Brewer or anyone who could complete the National Guard Program.

Additionally, it is my belief that the regulation of the NYSPHSAA is an insult to the brave young men and women who have made a difficult choice to place their lives in jeopardy in defense of our nations freedoms. Instead of penalizing Stephen Brewer, the NYSPHSAA should be highlighting the incredible commitment and sacrifice he has made to our country and ensure that he shares in the full enjoyment of his Senior year in High School before being deployed to serve in the War.

Your immediate attention to modifying this existing regulation to allow Stephen Brewer to participate immediately in his team’s football games is greatly appreciated.
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