Broadening the Scope
Broadening the Scope
Blog: From the Director
Posted Friday, September 8, 2017

There are two categories of projects that deserve most of our attention in school sports, no matter where or on what level we work. They are important either because they deal with chronic problems or because they address core principles.

Among many, the chronic problems include declining numbers of registered officials and increasing numbers of athletic transfers, as well as football scheduling. It is mostly because these are persistent problems for many at the local level that they have become priorities for MHSAA management’s time and attention.

Addressing chronic problems can often feel like walking a treadmill. We can work up a sweat, but get nowhere. Arrive at no new and better place. But the effort is important and may keep things from getting worse. Which is why many hours are being spent on these three chronic problems this year: officials, transfers and scheduling.

Of potentially greater value and lasting impact are the projects most directly addressing core principles of educational athletics, such as sportsmanship, health and safety and the scope of our programs. Backsliding on these topics can be most damaging to school-sponsored sports, and the damage – or missed opportunity – can have devastating future effects.

So, while we deal with the chronic issues of the day, we are devoting ourselves daily to more effective sportsmanship resources, even more enhancements for promoting participant health and safety, and increasing the scope of school sports in ways that are consistent with the core values of educational athletics.

School sports does not need longer seasons and travel. It does not need more games and hype. In these ways, the scope of school sports is just fine ... consistent with the objectives of the sponsoring organizations – schools – which is to educate young people. Academics before athletics.

Where school sports must consider a larger scope is in who the programs are serving. There is both need and opportunity to reach younger students and provide more service and support to junior high/middle school sports – the feeder system of educational athletics.

There is both need and opportunity to reach students with athletic interests outside the 14 MHSAA tournament sports the MHSAA provides girls and the 14 for boys. Many thousands more students want to participate in other sports – the sports of their passion – under their school’s banner and in MHSAA tournaments. There may also be both need and opportunity to involve more students with disabilities in school-sponsored sports programs.

The scope is just fine for the sports we sponsor. Broadening the scope of whom we serve is a core principle project that deserves our attention.

Comments

# Rick Bauer
Friday, September 8, 2017 11:01 AM
I respectfully disagree with the the statement, "School sports does not need longer seasons and travel. It does not need more games and hype. In these ways, the scope of school sports is just fine ... consistent with the objectives of the sponsoring organizations – schools – which is to educate young people. Academics before athletics." Allowing kids to travel to communities that are vastly different than their own is a valuable educational experience. Allowing athletes to travel out of state for athletics does not hurt kids but allows that to have experience they may not otherwise have. For an student athletes with lower socioeconomic status travel with family may not be an option. We have an opportunity to introduce young people to places and experiences they would otherwise miss. I was from a family that was lower middle class and we did not travel much as it was not something we could afford. Through college athletics and some club athletics in high school I was able to travel to various parts of our country. While the competition part was wonderful I remember the sights and the communities we went to. I think your title says it all broaden the scope...For years the MHSAA has held on to these beliefs that travel and national competitions are bad for kids. Maybe you can hold on the core belief and come to some sort of compromise that allows our kids opportunities without turning our athletics into schools leaving the state for every competition but perhaps limiting the number of out of state competitions. Get rid of the 300 mile rule which allows some schools the opportunity to leave the state and punishes others simply due to their geography. I would love to talk with anyone at the MHSAA further about this issue. While I don't agree with a few of the MHSAA's stances on things, I do recognize that you all are doing great things for kids and communities but we can do more.

Rick Bauer

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