Among the most important but most overlooked or consciously avoided functions of a statewide high school athletic association are to neither go-along nor get-along.
That’s right. The job is to serve people, but not necessarily please people. Because serving will as often mean saying “No” as saying “Yes.”
The job is to enforce rules. It’s to impose penalties when violators fail to do so themselves.
The job is to resist the drift of school sports toward the excesses of non-school youth sports programs, big-time college sports and professional sports.
The job is not to go along with proposals to change educational athletics just to get along with those who make the proposals; the job is to oppose such proposals.
The job is to fight, and schools depend on our fighting spirit. Without it, legislators would have changed important policies and procedures schools have adopted to regulate high school athletics in Michigan. Without it, courts would have overturned essential rules and regulations of high school athletics in Michigan.
When it comes to fighting, schools know their limitations: lack of time, money and will. Schools depend on the MHSAA to do their fighting.
We fought for years on behalf of schools to preserve the sports seasons arrangement schools wanted for girls volleyball and basketball. We lost that fight; and subsequently, schools and their leagues have rolled over in the face of challenges about how to schedule girls and boys basketball games during the winter.
Simply to avoid a fight, schools and leagues have made changes in game days and times that neither coaches nor athletes have wanted, changes they knew would do harm. Those decisions about regular-season game days and times, which are the exclusive jurisdiction of local schools, have not involved the MHSAA. In view of the confusion and carnage in regular-season basketball, we really wish we could have been enjoined in the fight.