Boys’ gymnastics may get a second chance to be reinstated as an official high school sport in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's board of directors decided today to reconsider its vote in January to drop boys’ gymnastics from its roster of sponsored athletic activities.
The MIAA’s Jan. 16 vote to end sanctioned competition for boys' gymnastics had drawn harsh criticism from coaches, parents, and gymnasts all over the country. That vote had essentially downgraded boys’ gymnastics to a club activity next season.
MIAA officials said then that the decision was driven by low participation rates. There are only seven public high schools — Andover, Attleboro, Braintree, Burlington, Lowell, Newton North, and Newton South — that have boys' gymnastics teams.
The MIAA board of directors is expected to take the issue up again at their next scheduled meeting on June 6, which provides hope that boys’ gymnastics can continue as usual next season.
Michael Denise, the athletic director at Braintree High School, and Rich Ellis, the boys’ gymnastics coach at Braintree High, appeared before the MIAA board of directors today and presented their reasons to reinstate boys’ gymnastics.
“Once they heard some of the facts, they certainly were positive to it,” said Ellis, in a telephone interview. “During the discussion, the board members said, ‘Why are we dropping them?’”
Ellis said the board voted 7-2 to revisit the issue at their next meeting on June 6. As it stands, if the MIAA board of directors does not act to reverse their original decision, there will be no MIAA-sanctioned high school gymnastics competitions for boys next season, and no boys’ state championship. The seven schools with boys’ gymnastics teams would be able to offer boys’ gymnastics as a club sport.
Ellis said he was “hoping something would be resolved” at the May 1 meeting, but he was otherwise pleased with how it turned out. He said he’s looking forward to the next MIAA meeting, and plans to reach out to other coaches, parents, and athletes to join him in voicing support for boys' gymnastics.
“I’m going to have to rally the troops," he said.
Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.