By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The MHSAA Student Advisory Council's "Battle of the Fans VII" is set to kick off at high schools all over our state. An expanded contest format will allow more schools to compete for the title of best high school student section in Michigan.
Contenders need to keep just one question in mind: Are you prepared to accept the challenge?
For the first time in BOTF history, nine schools will advance to a second round of "challenge" competition, with three finalists then selected for student section visits during the second half of this winter season.
To apply, schools are invited to submit a short video, via YouTube, of their cheering sections in action. Video submissions should be between 90 seconds and three minutes long and explain how that section meets the following contest criteria: positive sportsmanship, student body participation, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the group, student section leadership and fun.
The deadline for student-submitted video applications is noon Jan. 13. Nine semifinalists then will be chosen – three each from Class A, Class B and Class C/D – to partake in a two-week challenge where each will be required to complete 10 tasks further showing why they should be chosen as Michigan’s best student section. From those nine, three finalists then will be selected by the Student Advisory Council and visited on a home game night by MHSAA staff and Advisory Council representatives.
The MHSAA will produce a video of that finalist after each visit, with the champion being selected by the Student Advisory Council based in part on activity on the MHSAA’s social media sites.
This year’s winner will be announced Feb. 23 and recognized March 23 at the Breslin Center.
Frankenmuth was named last year’s champion and presented with a banner during the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. Sections from Boyne City, Charlotte, Petoskey and Traverse City West also were finalists.
“Battle of the Fans has enjoyed a great run these first six years and provided plenty of examples that help us teach students statewide how to celebrate school spirit,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council. “By putting a fresh spin on the contest this winter, we’ll be able to have more schools involved in the competition for a longer period of time, and we’re looking forward to the creativity of our students as they complete these challenges – which will allow us to showcase more of the great work so many are doing to support their classmates not just on one night, but all school year long.”
Rules, directions for submitting videos, plus links to coverage of finalists from the first six years of the contest can be found on the MHSAA Website BOTF page. This year’s finalist videos, plus the announcement of the 2017-18 winner, will be published on Second Half.
The Student Advisory Council is made up of eight seniors and eight juniors, who each serve two-year terms. The Council acts as the voice of Michigan's student-athletes; it serves as a student sounding board for the MHSAA's Representative Council, assists in planning Sportsmanship Summits, Captains Clinics and other student leadership events; participates in a yearly focus group about the state of high school sports for Michigan State University's Institute for the Study of Youth Sports and assists with medal ceremonies at MHSAA championship events.
PHOTO: Dowagiac had us on the move during its BOTF championship run in 2015. VIDEO: Below, Frankenmuth showed its spirit in 2017 in becoming the first two-time BOTF champion.