There are some people who believe the job of MHSAA staff is to be neutral on all matters of substance – and that the MHSAA office is to serve merely as a clearinghouse where others’ ideas are processed and prepared for the membership’s consideration. That is often the function of the MHSAA office and its staff, but not always . . . Being a membership-run organization does not mean the staff must be mindless or spineless.
When there is need to lead, we must lead – as we have, for example, on the subject of sportsmanship since the late ‘80s and are now doing with electronic media. On these issues we have led the state; and our state has led the nation.
When external threats are made that would do harm to school sports – for example, some legislative initiatives and lawsuits – we take the position of aggressive opposition. We lead the opposition.
Prior to the sports seasons litigation, one of the few athletic directors in the state who advocated for the change of girls volleyball and girls basketball seasons said to me: “I assume the MHSAA staff will be neutral in this matter.” And I responded: “No. That is not a luxury we have.” Any initiative so strongly opposed by a majority of our member schools, or any initiative so obviously harmful to a large segment of our member schools, must be and will be opposed by the MHSAA staff. We cannot and will not be neutral when someone advocates doing harm to member schools.
If there is a proposal that would harm small schools (or large), northern schools (or southern), private schools (or public) – we need to say so; and we need to work for solutions that respond as much as possible to the desires of one group without adversely affecting the welfare of another. It is a middle ground, but not necessarily a neutral stance.