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The Boston Globe

Sports

MIAA state championships to be streamed online

FRANKLIN — None of the assembled directors at Wednesday’s first MIAA board meeting of the school year can tell you how any of their teams will fare. But what they do know is that if their school makes the state championship game, fans can watch it live online.

In an agreement announced Tuesday and discussed by the board Wednesday, every MIAA state championship will be online starting this fall. From soccer to gymnastics, field hockey to volleyball, every title game will be on the new NFHS Network, a partnership of the National Federation of State High School Associations, 28 individual state associations such as the MIAA, and PlayOn! Sports.

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The proposal for the network was discussed at the board’s May meeting but didn’t become official until Aug. 1, when 28 states finalized agreements to join the network. Other states are expected to join soon.

The current roster includes Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

“This could be as dynamic as ESPN,” said Athol athletic director and board vice president David King.

The MIAA will receive $60,000 a year from the network and the contract covers five years. Fans can watch games on www.NFHSnetwork.com by choosing from a number of options. The site will be a subscribition-based digital service.

One option could be paying for a specific sport. Another could be paying for an entire season or school year. Those details are being worked out.

“We believe this is one of the greatest opportunities in the 94-year history of the NFHS as we are able to take advantage of new technology and showcase high school sports and performing arts on a national scale,” said NFHS executive director Bob Gardner.

The broadcasts could also be an opportunity for the Boston area’s many college communications majors. With multiple championships played on the same day, a PlayOn! Sports state title broadcast could be the start of a career doing play-by-play.

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Bill Gaine's first meeting as the MIAA’s new executive director began with an update on his predecessor Dick Neal, who retired in June. Neal’s retirement got off to a bad start when he ruptured a tendon in his left leg in a fall at home last month. Neal already had fall surgery planned for another issue with his right leg. The bad wheels didn’t stop Neal from e-mailing good-luck wishes to Gaine as he prepared for his first board meeting . . . The MIAA spring tournaments took in roughly $100,000 more than budgeted for, helping to offset a poor winter tournament season . . . Four athletic directors were in attendance, beginning their careers as board members: Mike Correia of New Bedford, Thom Holdgate of Duxbury, Mike Lahiff of Watertown, and Lindsey von Holtz of Mt. Greylock . . . The National Federation annual summer meeting will be in Boston next July, the third time Boston has hosted the event.

Bob Holmes can be reached at rholmes@globe.com
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