Buffalo Public School football teams will be allowed to play against districts within Western New York, now that the Executive Committee of Section VI has reversed an earlier decision.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, in announcing the decision Monday afternoon, said he was pleased with the reversal.
“In reversing its decision to exclude students from the City of Buffalo from competing against neighbors and friends, Section VI confirms what we all know too well: diversity is our strength,” Brown said. “And on the occasion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let us rejoice in the news that, together, this city and this region came together to do what is right.”
Earlier Monday, Buffalo Bills great Thurman Thomas joined the mayor to call on Section VI to reverse the decision, discussing the importance of high school athletics to scholarships and team-building skills.
Just last week, the council voted in favor of its school districts across Western New York creating their own leagues. The move was meant to allow teams to play games closer to home, thereby cutting down on travel time and costs.
Years ago, teams in the same regional area all had their own divisions, something that could be resumed under this restructuring.
The problem was with Buffalo Public Schools, which dissolved its division in order to compete in Section VI.
Section VI President Adam Stoltman released a statement, saying:
"The decision to return high school football to league-based play was carefully considered and followed a transparent process through which all Section VI members were provided opportunities for input. Returning high school football to league-based play would reduce travel time and costs for the 63 football teams in Section VI, and would also enhance league rivalries, increase the significance of games for playoff eligibility, foster increased attendance and facilitate long-term scheduling. Nonetheless, the Section values the perspectives and concerns that have been presented by the Buffalo Public Schools as a continuing Section VI member. The Executive Committee believes that this morning’s action to delay any implementation of the return to league-based play will provide an opportunity to engage in on-going meaningful dialogue with the BPS, as well as the Section’s other members, and to ultimately ensure that a return to league-based play addresses the concerns of the BPS while enhancing the opportunities and experiences of the student-athletes who participate in high school football within the Section."