Realizing the goals of even higher participation and higher standards in school sports requires not only maintaining but actually promoting essential eligibility rules.
In the MHSAA online library is a lengthy document entitled A History and Rationale of Essential Eligibility Rules for Interscholastic Athletics in Michigan. We suggest administrators review the Contents page to see what’s there, then read through the boldface words of the entire document, then read the Foreword and pages 1-12 of the document.
Then, when you are questioned about a rule, turn to that section, read it and restate it in your own words. And wrestle with these kinds of questions:
• Would removing this rule increase or interfere with classroom attendance and students’ study time? Would it enhance or detract from schools’ core mission?
• Would removing this rule add to schools’ costs, or add to participants’ costs?
• Would removing this rule compromise competitive equity? Would it allow the rich to get richer? Would it disadvantage lower profile schools, lower profile sports, or lower levels of teams?
• Would removing this rule make it harder for administrators to hold coaches accountable, or encourage coaches’ profiles to grow greater than athletic directors’, principals’ and superintendents’, which is one of the fundamental problems in intercollegiate athletics today?
Here’s a reality check: states with relaxed out-of-season rules and/or less restrictive travel and all-star and national tournament rules do not have fewer problems than we have with the non-school travel teams or tennis and golf conflicts. They do not have more well-rounded pupils and programs than we do.
Looking at other states does not make me want what they have, does not make me think that they have answers to our problems.
Rarely does eliminating rules solve problems. Usually, maintaining and enforcing rules is the problem-solving route.