Before my son brought a woman home for Thanksgiving, my wife and I reminded ourselves of topics to avoid, including religion, so we wouldn’t accidentally say the wrong thing and possibly adversely affect the future of the relationship. Probably, it would be wisest not to blog about religion either. But nevertheless, I’m going to; and I’ve chosen a holy day in the cold of winter to write about this hot topic.
The MHSAA has an extraordinarily diverse mix of schools. At the high school level are 657 public schools, including 52 charter schools; and there are 111 nonpublic schools, including 100 religious-based institutions. Within these 768 schools are students and faculty of many different belief systems; and even those of the same religion follow different doctrines and observe different traditions, rituals and practices.
It is impossible for an organization of such diverse membership to schedule statewide tournament progressions during necessarily compressed time periods, and often with inclement weather or other unpredictable interruptions, to schedule and reschedule events in a way that avoids every religious conflict. And actually, avoiding conflicts with religious observances is not the highest priority for the MHSAA.
As an organization serving schools and educational athletics, the highest scheduling/rescheduling priority is minimizing conflicts with schools’ academic programs. This explains why the vast majority of MHSAA tournaments are after the school day is over, and on nights not followed by school, and on weekends. And it is why contests postponed on a Saturday will usually be rescheduled for Sunday and not delayed to a school day.
From a religious perspective, it offends some people that the MHSAA schedules tournament events on Friday nights and Saturdays. It offends even more people that the MHSAA reschedules postponed Saturday events on Sundays. But from an educational perspective, it makes sense. The MHSAA’s programs are intended to promote education, not religion; and MHSAA scheduling policies reflect the proper perspective and priority.