Scott Ericson: FCIAC too good to walk away from
While the FCIAC was deciding on a schedule for next fall’s football season there was much debate about which direction the league should go.
Some liked the scheduling the way it is done now, some wanted subtle changes while other called for a complete overhaul of how football is scheduled.
After my opinion on moving to a tiered-scheduling approach was written I received numerous emails and phone calls on both sides of the argument.
Some agreed, some did not, but all the points made were based on what everyone thought was in the best interest of the student athletes involved.
In the time leading up to the vote by the conference in late December, a group of Fairfield parents got together, spit-balling ideas about what can be done to help Warde and Ludlowe become more successful.
There was talk of changing FCIAC scheduling, ways to improve the youth league in town and several other small fixes.
At the end of one email was an idea that stopped me in my tracks.
It turns out, someone at one of the parent-run meetings brought up the idea of the Fairfield schools leaving the FCIAC.
Just packing up and bouncing to another conference because it is not working out in football.
The idea was brought up again when the FCIAC football schedule came out with no major changes and nothing done to address the lopsided losses teams in the lower half of the league sustain.
This time it was not just chatter from the Fairfield schools, it was floated around that maybe Stamford and Westhill would look to walk from the league. At least in football.
Mind you this was just conversational, nothing like this is imminently happening.
Please read that last sentence again before emailing me or anyone at Westhill or Stamford.
However, it should serve notice to the football committee that people would even consider leaving the state’s top athletic conference because they feel so disenfranchised in football.
The sentiment of these people calling for secession is understood, but they shouldn’t leave.
Never mind that Stamford High is a charter member of the league and is really the heart of the FCIAC both geographically and emotionally.
Stamford is also currently the defending FCIAC girls basketball and girls volleyball champions and Westhill is the boys basketball champion.
The people attached to those programs at the bottom of the football standings are right to be upset and right to be looking for solutions, but leaving the league should not even be on the table.
The two, and for a time one, high schools in Fairfield are linchpins of the FCIAC and the thought of one or both bolting for the SCC or SWC seems ludicrous.
First off, despite the attention paid to it, football is not the only sport in the FCIAC and decisions should never be made about all sports just because one program is lacking in comparison to the rest of the league in any given sport.
Ludlowe and Warde certainly play at a championship level in other FCIAC sports. All the teams at the bottom of the football standings are competitive and in some cases dominant in other sports
Secondly, the FCIAC is the premier conference in the state of Connecticut and that includes success in other sports by schools with not very good football teams.
Just look at this past fall where the FCIAC brought home 14 state championships in eight sports. The league won titles in every fall sport other than boys soccer, where Danbury was disqualified from the championship game for use of an ineligible player.
The league had eight state runners-up in the fall to go along with the 14 champions.
Last spring, it was 12 state titles with an additional eight teams finishing as runners-up.
Warde was runner up in both the state baseball and girls lacrosse tournaments.
Back to the fall, the FCIAC was 69-42-2 in the five team sports tournaments, winning seven championships in the non-head-to-head sports girls swimming and diving, boys cross country and girls cross country.
The Staples boys and Ridgefield girls cross country teams each won the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open meets. The Staples boys went on to represent the FCIAC by winning the New England Championship.
Greenwich took top honors at both the Class LL and State Open swimming.
And yes, the football teams did well too with four teams playing for state championships and New Canaan and Darien winning it all.
The FCIAC teams in the state football tournaments went a combined 10-3 with two of the losses coming against fellow FCIAC opponents with Darien defeating Greenwich and Ridgefield.
The biggest thing keeping teams from advancing in the fall was FCIAC-on-FCIAC crime with a combined 18 games in the fall state tournaments between league foes.
That many games against league opponents is a result of so many good teams in the league qualifying and advancing in these tournaments.
Three of those matchups came in finals with Stamford beating Ridgefield in volleyball, Darien beating Ridgefield in football and Staples and Darien tying in field hockey.
When not playing FCIAC teams the league went an impressive 46-19 against the rest of the state in head-to-head sports.
Nine different schools were either champions or runners up.
That is one heck of a diverse league résumé.
It would be a shame anyone left because things are not to their liking in football.
The sentiment is understood, the anger is real for these football programs and change is most definitely needed, but jumping to another league should never be the solution.
There is too much good about the league to just blow it up over football.