New Year Observations
Blog: From the Director
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tomorrow may be just the first day of autumn, but we are already far into the fall season of school sports in Michigan.  Here are some early observations:

  • In those places where schools are the center of the community, school sports remain in the center of local conversation.  Huge opening game football crowds gathered in glorious weather.  They learned from each other and PA announcements about other athletic and academic programs of their school, and of the activities to open the new school year.  There were signups for volunteers and announcements for potlucks and picnics.  While teams battled, townspeople bonded.  Marching bands.  Cheerleaders.  Swarms of middle schoolers playing touch football behind the bleachers. Each of it part of the unique American tradition of high school sports.
  • The more careful attention to preventing and treating head trauma has raised many questions, especially in soccer and football.  These were usually good questions – not seeking ways around the new rules and protocols, but seeking assurance that local actions would comply with both the letter and spirit of the new policies.
  • With fewer full-time athletic administrators in our schools, frustrated parents are seeking information and answers directly from the MHSAA office.  Our challenge is to provide the assistance while keeping school personnel in the loop.  Our worry is that with less time for onsite oversight, there will be more rules violations and unpleasantries that accompany forfeited contests.  Several varsity football forfeits have already been reported.
  • A depressed economy combined with escalating “pay-to-play” prices is taking a toll on participation, especially in lower profile sports and subvarsity level programs.  It’s no surprise that families are disinclined to pay $200 or more for a spot in a JV tennis program.  And what a shame; for this is just the kind of place where the educational process of school sports can be at its best.


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