I’m in Boone, Iowa today, attending one of the few out-of-state meetings I allow myself each year; but it’s often one of my favorites. It’s the meeting of my colleagues from the state high school associations in “Section 4” of the National Federation.
The state associations of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin are the founding members of the National Federation’s precursor, the Midwest Federation of State High School Athletic Associations. That was in 1920; and Indiana’s association was among the first additions in 1924.
Wisconsin claims to be the nation’s oldest high school athletic association in the country; and all five are among the nation’s oldest and strongest, which I define as least expensive to, but mostly fully serving, their member schools.
Together, these five associations represent nearly 3,000 high schools with a combined enrollment of almost 2,000,000 students.
We share more in common than just some of our borders. We see little need for national-scope events and no need for national high school championships. We appreciate that the soul of high school sports is in local communities and their cross-town or cross-county rivalries. We believe that state championships place enough stress on kids, coaches and schools; and we’re not interested in raising the stakes any further. We know that the educational ethic at the foundation of school sports will suffer if athletic stakes get raised any further.
Most of our neighbors in the Great Plains – e.g., Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and both North and South Dakota – share our perspectives, as to more varying degrees do high school associations elsewhere. We reside in the center of the nation and of educational athletics in America. And we understand that, as we advance new ways to promote school sports, we have a responsibility to preserve and protect the core values of educational athletics.