Wrong End of the Microscope
October 14, 2016
Those who love and lead high school football in Michigan may be looking through the wrong end of the microscope.
Attention to large schools, varsity programs and the postseason is a waste of time if we fail to closely examine smaller schools, lower level programs and the start of the season.
Are we adequately nurturing our roots and promoting the future of the game? Do high school coaches spend more time with civic and parent groups describing the benefits and defending the safety record of school-sponsored football than they do airing their grievances against other coaches in the media?
Do we understand how increasing the number and enrollment ranges of 8-player football programs affects our smallest schools, whether they conduct 11- or 8-player programs? Do we see where and how the same proposal can serve one school very well but another school terribly?
Do we understand what's happening in junior high/middle school programs? Do we play enough games to be attractive to kids and their parents, and do the practice policies and playing rules of this level promote an extra degree of participant health and safety?
Do we understand how starting practice so much earlier than academic classes in the fall may turn off kids and parents, especially at lower levels of play; and are we keeping up with rapidly changing calendar changes of member schools?
Ultimately, the future health of varsity high school football programs depends on the outcome of these kinds of questions, answers and efforts ... and has little to do with the size and system of the postseason playoffs. And positive efforts will be negatively affected by coaches airing dirty laundry in public.