By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
An increased effort to ensure student-athletes and their parents or guardians receive concussion education information was among topics that generated the most attention from the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its annual Winter Meeting on March 24 in East Lansing.
Most of the Council’s discussion pointed toward possible actions at its Spring Meeting in May, with possible additions to the MHSAA Physical Exam/Clearance/Consent forms among those that may be voted upon when the Council reconvenes. The Council did take a first step, approving a requirement at its Winter Meeting mandating all students and their parent/guardian to sign a post-concussion consent form signifying they have received information on potential risks prior to returning to activity following a concussion.
Continuing its emphasis on the importance of collecting in-depth student-athlete health histories, the Council approved PRIVIT on a two-year trial basis as an electronic-based health history record-keeping tool to serve as an alternative to written communications and forms that accompany pre-participation physical examination of athletes.
The Council also discussed for possible action in May standardizing MHSAA rules/risk management meeting content for assistant and subvarsity coaches and increasing the frequency of in-depth concussion information within those meetings while still giving adequate attention to a variety of other important health and safety topics, including heat illness, sudden cardiac arrest and overuse injuries.
In other ongoing business, the Council reviewed necessary modifications to the MHSAA Membership Resolution and Handbook in advance of a change to the MHSAA Constitution that will permit schools to join the MHSAA at the 6th-grade level beginning in 2016-17. The amendment will allow schools which join the MHSAA at the 6th-grade level to let 6th-graders participate with MHSAA services and support and with and against 7th- and 8th-graders without MHSAA Executive Committee approval. It allows all districts, but requires no districts, to provide athletic opportunities for 6th-graders under the auspices of the MHSAA, either on separate teams or with 7th-and 8th-graders.
The Council considered one sport matter, in track & field, voting to begin this 2016 season to eliminate one preliminary round of the boys 110-meter hurdles, girls 100-meter hurdles and boys and girls 100 and 200-meter dashes at all Lower Peninsula Regionals that use fully automatic time (FAT) to determine race results. The Council also voted to require all Lower Peninsula Regional sites to use FAT beginning in 2017. Both actions were recommended by the MHSAA Cross Country/Track & Field Committee.
The Council also approved an Officials Review Committee recommendation to require all new officials to complete the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) online course “Interscholastic Officiating” in addition to current requirements to complete the MHSAA Officials Guidebook exam and mechanics exams for new officials seeking to work football and basketball games.
The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,400 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 more than 1.4 million spectators each year.