As we turn the page from our 2009 wall calendars or click our electronic calendars forward to 2010, the people in the work of school sports do so with a sense that 2010 may be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. More than a new year, 2010 may be a whole new way of thinking about school sports.
As school districts struggle as a result of Michigan’s long and deep recession, compounded by a dysfunctional government and entrenched and inflexible benefits for school personnel, some of those districts will so badly trim school sports that school sponsorship and educational benefits will become almost unrecognizable; and in fact, some districts will turn the programs over entirely to the community and club interests that so many parents, coaches and administrators have so severely criticized for so long.
It is hoped that enough people appreciate the important educational benefits of extracurricular programs, including interscholastic athletics, that such draconian measures will not usually be taken. And the MHSAA is working with administrators of this more positive perspective to discover new ideas for protecting or generating revenues and controlling or reducing costs of school sports programs.
As a large part of this effort, the MHSAA is examining both Handbook regulations and tournament policies to see which might be revised to reduce the local costs of participating in MHSAA postseason tournaments and in administering local regular-season programs.
A package of proposals is expected to be reviewed and prioritized during the annual league leadership meeting hosted by the MHSAA in mid-February and then again during the annual conference of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association in March. It is anticipated that the list of ideas will then be posted on MHSAA.com in order to receive a wider critique of the list, as well as suggestions for additional changes to be considered.
Council action on the most popular and productive ideas can be anticipated in May for implementation in time for the 2010-11 school year.