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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Aug. 1 – Nearly 110,000 student-athletes in eight sports will usher in the 2011-12 Fall sports season as member schools of the Michigan High School Athletic Association begin official practices.
Practice sessions begins on Monday (August 8) in football with golf, followed by all other sports on Wednesday (August 10). Practice in football must begin on August 8 for all schools wishing to begin regular season games the weekend of August 25-28. Schools must have 12 days of preseason practice at all levels before their first game, which may not occur before 16 calendar days. All football schools must also conduct at least three conditioning days of practice before beginning contact, and the conditioning sessions may not include any pads.
In golf and tennis, competition may commence no earlier than after three separate days of team practice, and not before seven calendar days. The first day competition may take place in golf and tennis is August 17. In all other fall sports, contests can take place after seven days of practice for the team and not before 9 calendar days. The first day competition may take place in cross country, tennis, soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball in the fall is August 19.
This year, two football dates precede Labor Day, and Thursday varsity games will take place both weeks. Subvarsity competition may begin on Wednesday, August 24. In Week 1, 68 games will be played on Thursday, 235 contests will be played on Friday, and 16 games will be played on Saturday. The following weekend, 234 games will be played on Thursday, 78 games will be played on Friday, and 4 games will be played on Saturday.
Some football rules have been clarified in 2011. An officials time out is charged for the removal of a player from the game for an apparent injury, and the player shall be replaced for at least one down unless it occurs at the end of a half or overtime period. Teams will no longer be able to call a time out on their own to be able to return the player to the game on the next play. All horse collar fouls will treated as live-ball fouls. Roughing the passer fouls will be enforced from the spot at end of the play when the spot is beyond the line of scrimmage. The definition of a chop block was modified by the National Federation of State High School Associations Football Rules Committee to state that a combination of blocks below and above the knee, with or without a delay, is a chop block. Two players blocking in a combination below the knee is no longer a chop block. Finally, eye shade restrictions have been adopted nationally, which limits the use of grease or no-glare strips to a single swipe beneath the eye. Strips cannot bear logos, symbols or letters. This is in response to the increased trend of face painting in the game.
Football will also see the addition of an eight-player division in the MHSAA Playoffs. A total of 16 teams will participate in this division of the tournament, with the announcement of the qualifiers and pairings taking place on Selection Sunday (Oct. 23). The four-week tournament will conclude with the Finals on Nov. 19. Currently, 20 teams are eligible for the eight-player tournament, and others could still be added if they are of Class D enrollment and are playing a minimum of seven regular season games in the eight-player format.
In cross country, competitors may now wear wrist watches during competition by action of the MHSAA Representative Council. Previously, watches were prohibited under the jewelry rule. The Council also adopted beginning this year the MHSAA Cross Country and Track & Field Committee recommendation that in all competitions in cross country and track, a general jewelry rule advisory will be made, and once a race has begun, an athlete seen wearing jewelry by a meet official shall be disqualified from that race.
The Representative Council adopted new rules for unfinished soccer games in the MHSAA Tournament. If play is suspended and conditions make it impossible to continue after the first half is completed or anytime during the second half and a team is behind by more than one goal, the referee shall declare the game completed. If a team is behind by only one goal, and fewer than 60 minutes have been played, the game shall be treated as a suspended contest and resumed on a following day. When 60 minutes have been played with one team ahead and the game cannot continue, the game is over. Among National Federation rules changes: three additional reasons for a player receiving a yellow card have been added to the books – displaying reckless play, being illegally equipped, and excessive celebration. Excessive celebration previously could have resulted in a simultaneous yellow-red display and the ejection of a player from the game. Taunting and using offensive language or gestures are still red-card offenses.
In swimming & diving, a diver performing a legal dive list who is judged, but not included in the team score at a meet may garner a win towards qualification for the MHSAA Diving Regional. In tennis, an absent player may be directly substituted for with the approval of the opposing coaches and absent league/conference restrictions; and during the MHSAA Tournament, a team point may be deduced for flagrant misconduct by a non-playing member of a team.
There are no substantial rules change in girls volleyball or golf this year. A new course is in the rotation for the Lower Peninsula Golf Finals – Katke-Cousins Golf Course on the campus of Oakland University joins the Meadows at Grand Valley State University and Forest Akers Golf Courses at Michigan State University.
The 2011 Fall campaign culminates with post-season tournaments beginning with the Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals the week of Sept. 28, and wraps up with the Football Playoff Finals on November 25-26. Here is a complete list of fall tournament dates:
U.P. Finals -- Oct. 22
L.P. Regionals -- Oct. 28 or 29
L.P. Finals -- Nov. 5
Selection Sunday - Oct. 23
Pre-Districts – Oct. 28 or 29
District Finals -- Nov. 4 or 5
Regional Finals -- Nov. 11 or 12
Semifinals -- Nov. 19
Finals -- Nov. 25-26
Selection Sunday - Oct. 23
Regional Semifinals – Oct. 28 or 29
Regional Finals -- Nov. 5
Semifinals -- Nov. 12
Finals -- Nov. 19
L.P. Girls Golf:
Regionals -- Oct. 6 or 7 or 8
Finals -- Oct. 14-15
Boys L.P. Districts -- Oct. 17-22
Boys L.P. Regionals – Oct. 25-29
Boys L.P. Semifinals – Nov. 2
Boys L.P. Finals -- Nov. 5
L.P. Girls Swimming & Diving
Diving Quals -- Nov. 15
Swimming/Diving Finals-Nov. 18-19
U.P. Girls Finals – Sept. 28 or 29 or 30 or Oct. 1
L.P. Boys Regionals -- Oct. 6 or 7 or 8
L.P. Finals --Oct. 14-15
Districts –Oct 31-Nov. 5
Regionals – Nov. 9 & 10
Quarterfinals – Nov. 15
Semifinals – Nov. 17-18
Finals – Nov. 19
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by over 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract approximately 1.6 million spectators each year.