There are a many problems facing New Jersey lawmakers, certainly more than enough to take up their valuable time. 

Despite this they chose to jump into a matter that would best be left for others and only time will tell how much of an impact it has on the high school sports landscape in the state.

On Monday the state Senate and Assembly, against the wishes of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, passed bills that would allow public schools in the same district to merge sports programs.  Governor Chris Christie is expected to sign the legislation into law before he leaves office next week and if so it will go into effect with the 2018-19 school year.

On the surface there seems to be merit but in the sometimes shady world of high school sports there is also major concern about the doors that might be opened.  The idea is allow programs with declining participation to merge in order to field a team, which currently exists in all sports except basketball, baseball, softball and outdoor track.  

For example Toms River South and Toms River East have a cooperative ice hockey team because neither school had enough players to maintain their own.  Current NJSIAA rules allow for this in most sports and new legislation passed recently added football to the mix. 

I’m not sure why state lawmakers got involved when it seems like the cooperative program was working and you may be wondering what the downside is.  The answer is simply the fear that districts will merge programs to form “super teams” and not because of declining participation. 

What’s worse is that the NJSIAA will have no oversight in the matter so if Brick and Brick Memorial decided to form one baseball team that’s up to them. 

Of course you would like to believe that public school districts will do the right thing and only merge for the benefit of all their student-athletes.  However current school choice options have indeed led to some schools basically forming their own All-Star teams and has to be a cause of concern on a state-wide basis.

Now that lawmakers in Trenton have solved a problem that did not need solving maybe they can work on some of the other issues facing New Jersey. I think there are a few.

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