When 90 percent of one of our key constituent groups has the same opinion, it’s worth talking about – even if the topic is a sacred cow.
This fall, 89.6 percent of 580 survey respondents told the Michigan High School Athletic Association they favor a week earlier end to the girls volleyball season.
Even more – 91.7 percent – favor starting practice two days earlier in August, the same day practice starts for football.
More than 98 percent of those respondents were local athletic directors, and each class (A, B, C and D) was almost equally represented.
If girls volleyball ended a week earlier, it would always conclude before the start of firearm deer hunting season and have a weekend largely to itself, in contrast to the current calendar that sees the Girls Volleyball Finals competing with the Girls Swimming & Diving Finals, the 8-Player Football Finals and 16 Semifinal games in the 11-Player Football Tournament. It’s a weekend of 100 audio and video broadcast hours, among the MHSAA’s very busiest weekends of the entire school year.
The MHSAA’s Girls Volleyball Tournament is the latest finishing high school association Girls Volleyball Tournament in the country, sharing that distinction with nine other states. Compared to our neighbors, the tournament in Michigan ends a week later than the Girls Volleyball Tournament ends in Illinois and Ohio, and two weeks later than the same tournament ends in Indiana and Wisconsin. Michigan’s girls volleyball season is currently one day shorter than in Ohio but four days longer than in Indiana, eight days longer than in Illinois, and 12 days longer than in Wisconsin.
Whether or not girls or boys basketball seasons eventually move up or back or flip-flop, the start and end of girls volleyball season are ripe for review, according to a large portion of local-level administrators. The opposite position is taken by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association, which has countered the online survey with a position paper that points out how much the girls volleyball season was shortened after girls volleyball moved from the winter season to the fall.
The Representative Council’s recent decision to switch the starting dates for girls and boys basketball seasons in the 2018-19 school year diminishes the urgency to decide between these different points of view.