Ron Belinko, president of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, does not dismiss the possibility of increasing the number of games played per season in all sports.
The issue of expansion -- long resisted by the state association -- was raised when Belinko addressed members of the Maryland Scholastic Football Coaches Association at their meeting at the University of Maryland.
The subject, the MSFCA's June 6 proposal to increase the football playoffs from eight to 16 games, involved establishing the first play date for the Friday before Labor Day (a week earlier than usual) and the first practice date 20 days before that (Aug. 13).
"I explained that their proposal was a step in the right direction, but the time for expansion in football just isn't right at this time," Belinko said. "I think they left feeling as though I had their best interests at heart."
Belinko, also the coordinator of athletics in Baltimore County, said Maryland high schools, in general, play fewer than the national average of regular-season games in all sports except football, which breaks even at 10 games.
For example, the state association allows 20 regular-season basketball games -- one below the national average. Maryland's baseball teams can play 18 games, which is far short of the number allowed nationally (26).
Soccer and field hockey (12 games) teams play four games fewer than the national norm, and volleyball teams (15) play three fewer than the national average.
Belinko called his response to the MSFCA "encouraging of open dialogue with the football coaches."
He explained the proper procedures for filing proposals, because the MSFCA's proposal incorrectly had been issued to the Belinko Commission, a panel chosen by and headed by Belinko to examine a change from the long-used playoff point system to an open state tournament for all sports except football.
Though the Belinko Commission has elected to introduce open state tournaments this fall in soccer and volleyball, Belinko informed MSFCA members the commission agreed to address the remaining sports later.
"We will eventually address those sports that were not in the Belinko Commission's final report, and I assured the coaches that their concerns for football and the concerns of others for other sports were not out of the question," Belinko said.
"I also filled them in on the procedures of the Belinko Commission and on the state association's procedures for filing proposals."
Proposals for any sport, Belinko said, must be the result of an open forum and a combined effort of the state's district chairmen for that sport.
Then, the proposal must be approved by the Belinko Commission, the MPSSAA executive council and the state association's board of control.