Committees Fail Critical Issues

June 7, 2013

Over the years I have become increasingly impatient with the MHSAA’s committee process.  On the one hand, it is a nice exercise in democracy to involve each year more than 500 different people on more than 40 standing committees, including at least one for each MHSAA tournament sport.  However, it’s too often a superficial process that seems indifferent to or incapable of dealing with the most important issues of school sports.

Typically, each sport committee meets once each year for three to five hours, during which time it considers proposals that come from schools, leagues and the state’s coaches association for the sport; and the proposals most often deal with allowing more regular-season events and more qualifiers to the MHSAA postseason tournament.

Occasionally there is a proposal that might improve sportsmanship.  But much more often the proposals would increase conflicts between academics and athletics and/or strain overstressed local budgets.  And almost never is there a proposal that would address the health and safety of participants (the Wrestling Committee has been an occasional exception and the Competitive Cheer Committee is a routine exception).

While coaches associations must shoulder some of the blame because they’ve brought MHSAA committees “trivial” topics, at least in comparison to the tougher health and safety topics, much of the cause of MHSAA committee ineffectiveness is that the committees don’t meet long enough or often enough to research serious problems and develop well-thought-out solutions.  That is forgivable because it is difficult to get commitments from busy people all across Michigan to be absent from their regular jobs and travel dozens or even hundreds of miles, and to do so multiple times each year – which is what it takes to more fully understand complex problems and more carefully construct solutions.  Meetings have to be few and they have to be efficient.

However, facing the worst publicity football has seen since the mid-1970s, we knew we had to supplement the football committee process.  We did so by appointing a special Football Task Force of optimum size and experienced, representative makeup to meet on however many occasions are necessary during 2013 to accomplish three purposes:

  •     Review practice policies to improve acclimatization of players and reduce head trauma.
  •     Review competition rules to reduce head trauma and the frequency of the sport’s most injurious game situations.
  •     Develop promotions that extol the value of football to students, schools and communities and the safety record of school-based football.

The promotional efforts have begun to be rolled out; game rule modifications are being investigated; and four proposals for changing football practice policies have been prepared.  They will be the topic of our next posting.

MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 25, 2023

The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.

The one-day camps will take place between May 16-19 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.

Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.

“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”

Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.

All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.

“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”

The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 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 more than 1.3 million spectators each year.