June 13, 2017
Each summer, the Michigan High School Athletic Association issues several news releases that, together, help to inform us about the health of high school sports in Michigan. These include reports regarding participation and attendance.
The first of these releases will occur later this month when we report on participation and make comparisons to previous years. Later, there will be a report of how participation in Michigan compares to other states.
Without going into detail now, I’ll preempt the first release to provide its biggest news – football participation was down about five percent in grades 9-12 in 2016 compared to 2015.
The decline in number of schools sponsoring 11-player football is matched by the increase in schools sponsoring the 8-player game. So overall, the number of football schools is stable; but squad size is smaller.
Among other things, this predicts continuing growth in 8-player football, which expects approximately 60 schools this fall when the MHSAA 8-player tournament expands from one to two 16-team divisions.
The latest participation data also requires that those of us who love the game of football have much work to do; and that work has little to do with how either the 8- or 11-player tournament is conducted.
The focus needs to be on practice – including how early in August it begins and how much contact is allowed; the focus must be on personnel – including the importance of hiring on-staff teachers as coaches; and the focus must be on perceptions – including our narrative that our game has never been healthier for junior high/middle school and high school students and never more important for the unity and identity of schools and communities.
Like other sports, football is challenged by declining high school age enrollment, expansion in the number of sports offered by schools and increased single-sport specialization, as well as a largely misplaced concern for injuries.
On June 28, the leadership of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association is convening a focus group to help identify the themes that resonate best with parents and who the most trusted people are to deliver those messages. This is an important effort.
MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 27, 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 15-18 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.