By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association continued to create opportunities for participation in high school athletics during its annual Spring Meeting, May 1-2, in Glen Arbor, with a pair of actions designed to assist more schools in forming cooperative programs.
The Spring Meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association’s more than 1,400 member schools is generally the busiest of its three sessions each year. The Council considered 18 committee proposals and also dealt with a variety of eligibility rule, postseason tournament and operational issues.
Among proposals approved was a recommendation by the MHSAA Classification Committee designed to promote opportunities for schools demonstrating a long-standing lack of participation in baseball, bowling, competitive cheer, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and wrestling – provided those schools are part of the same public school district or fall under the same governing body. The new exception will allow, by Executive Committee approval, eligible schools to form cooperative programs regardless of enrollment limits placed on other schools and in other sports – currently, schools forming a co-op program in these sports must have an enrollment of fewer than 1,000 students.
The Council also voted to add opportunities for cooperative programs in all sports at the subvarsity level for schools showing a history of lack of participation. Again with Executive Committee approval, two or more member high schools may form a cooperative at the subvarsity level only regardless of student enrollment restrictions that would prevent the same cooperative at the varsity level. Students on these subvarsity cooperative teams would have varsity eligibility only with their school of actual enrollment should they be brought up to a varsity team.
The Council continued its work on health and safety that has been emphasized during the past seven years of an eight-year campaign focused on “4 H’s” – Health Histories, Heads, Heat and Hearts.
The Council approved enhancements to the MHSAA Physical Exam/Clearance/Consent Forms that in part include an annual requirement that students and parents acknowledge reading concussion education information. This enhancement is consistent with requirements of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
A number of changes regarding rules meeting requirements for coaches beginning in 2017-18 also were authorized. Concussion education will be the focus of the meetings’ health and safety section every other year, with other health and safety topics (including overuse injuries, sudden cardiac arrest and heat illness) alternating in off years. High school assistant and subvarsity coaches will be required to complete the same rules/risk management meeting as high school varsity head coaches after previously having additional options by which to satisfy the requirement. At all levels, coaches will not be allowed to coach in the MHSAA tournament for that sport in that season if they do not comply with the rules meeting requirement.
For football, the Council approved a Football Committee recommendation stating that teams, after their first game, should partake in no more than 90 minutes of collision practice per week. Currently, teams are allowed two days of collision practice after their first game, but this new recommendation suggests a minute limit as well. During other days of practice, players still may wear helmets and other protective pads (although neither is mandatory) and practice blocking and tackling technique against pads, shields, sleds or dummies.
The Council also heard plans for the second year of the MHSAA’s sideline concussion testing pilot program and received a summary of the first meeting of the MHSAA Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation.
Here is a summary of other actions taken by the Representative Council at the Spring Meeting, which will take effect during the 2016-17 school year unless noted:
• Out-of-season coaching rules were adjusted to allow teams of both genders playing the same sport to both host four-player skill group sessions with different coaches but at the same facility at the same time. Currently, only one four-player group in each sport, per school, can train at a facility at one time.
• Additional language regulating competition against out-of-state opponents prohibits MHSAA schools from participating in events involving teams from other states unless all of those teams at the event are bona fide school teams (not sports academy, club or community teams) and are members of their respective National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) member high school associations, if eligible.
• In bowling, the number of athletes allowed on an MHSAA Regionals and Finals roster was reduced from eight to seven after past seasons showed the eighth bowler rarely was involved in competition. Teams may bowl up to five during competition and may still have up to two substitutes, but the roster reduction should reduce congestion in the competition area of bowling centers during events.
• In competitive cheer, the Council approved two committee recommendations intended to make uniforms more consistent for all teams: Beginning during the 2017-18 season, all hair bows must be one solid color and not include adornments; and beginning in 2019-20, all uniforms must be free from cutouts and adornments including sequins, rhinestones, studs, glitter, etc.
• For football, in addition to the collision practice recommendation, the Council voted to allow MHSAA staff to request permission from the National Federation to experiment with using a 40-second play clock for the 2016 season. If granted, individual schools, with agreement of opponents and/or their leagues, may request MHSAA permission to conduct a contest using this timing option. Teams automatically would have 40 seconds to snap the ball from the end of the previous play, rather than the current 25 seconds after the official sets the ball and signals for the play clock to begin. (If play has been stopped by a timeout or penalty, the offense still will have 25 seconds to snap from the time the referee sets the ball and starts the play clock.)
• In golf, the Council approved a committee recommendation to add a sixth Regional tournament for the Lower Peninsula for both girls and boys, allowing for three more teams and three more individual players to qualify for the Lower Peninsula Finals. In adding the sixth Regional, the Council also voted to eliminate Lower Peninsula Districts from the boys tournament, pursuant to the Golf Committee’s recommendation. However, while eliminating one round of play for the boys, the addition of another Regional for both boys and girls will bring the field to 108 players for each gender for the MHSAA championship rounds.
• In ice hockey, an additional option to MHSAA overtime procedures was approved that will allow teams playing a two-game total-goal series to proceed to an overtime shootout after the second game to determine a series winner if the total goals are tied at the end of the two games. Schools must receive MHSAA approval prior to the series start.
• In boys lacrosse, a tournament with eight Regionals advancing champions to four Quarterfinals was approved; the current bracket includes only four Regionals and advances those champions to Semifinals in each division.
• In volleyball, the Council approved an adjustment that standardizes where Class C and D Quarterfinals will be played when including one Upper Peninsula and one Lower Peninsula team. In even years, the Quarterfinal will be played in the Lower Peninsula for Class C and the Upper Peninsula for Class D. In odd years, Class C will be played in the Upper Peninsula and Class D in the Lower Peninsula.
The Council also reviewed reports on membership, with 755 senior high schools and 705 junior high/middle schools in 2015-16; eligibility advancement applications, which totaled five for the year; the use of Educational Transfer Forms, which again held steady this year; school violations, attendance at athletic director in-service workshops and Coaches Advancement Program sessions, officials’ registrations, rules meetings attendance and officials reports submitted for the past three sports seasons. The Association’s $10.7 million budget for the 2016-17 school year also was approved.
The Representative Council is the 19-member legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five 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.
To provide for the convenience and safety of spectators attending the Michigan High School Athletic Association 11-Player Football Finals on Nov. 25 and 26 at Ford Field in Detroit, attendees are being advised of a variety of items related to transportation and security – including policies regarding parking, seating and types of bags allowed into the stadium.
Parking will be available in Ford Field facilities and lots to the east and north of the stadium and costs $8. A map identifying the designated Ford Field lots (4, 5 and 6) and parking deck can be found on the Football page under “Tracking the Tournament.” (There also are a number of privately-operated parking facilities close to Ford Field, but their pricing may differ.)
Fans also are advised that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Ford Field parking facilities and lots, and smoking – including use of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers – is prohibited inside the stadium. Tailgating, including the setting up and use of grilling equipment, also is not allowed.
Tickets are priced at $20 and allow a fan to see all four games in a single day. Tickets are available for purchase at the door (cash or credit accepted), from participating schools, or online from Ford Field via Ticketmaster – links to order tickets both days also are on the MHSAA Website football page. Spectators leaving the stadium will be required to purchase another ticket for re-entry. Infants able to be held in arms will be admitted without charge for this event. There will not be a public Will Call window.
Spectators may enter Ford Field at Gates A & B. Upon arrival in the building, fans will find their designated seating areas on the South side of the field if their team is the designated home team for their contest and on the North side for the designated visiting team. Home teams this weekend are Belleville, Warren De La Salle Collegiate, Mason, Harper Woods, Corunna, Almont, Jackson Lumen Christi and Ottawa Lake Whiteford. Brightly-lit video boards above the seating areas will display the names of the participating teams each day, and fans should sit on the side of the stadium where they see their school’s name. For general fans, the entire lower bowl of Ford Field will be open for the event.
Security measures also will be in place to help assure spectator safety. Fans will be subject to metal detector screening, and Ford Field personnel reserve the right to request patrons open their coats, bags and other item-carrying vessels for visual inspection and deny entrance to individuals who do not cooperate. Spectators should remove cell phones, cameras, keys and other large metal objects before passing through the metal detectors.
Items which fans will be prohibited from bringing into the building include, but are not limited to, the following:
* Purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, book bags, diaper bags, fanny packs, cinch bags, grocery & paper bags; duffle bags, computer bags or luggage of any kind.
* Aerosol cans (hairspray, mace, pepper spray, etc.)
* Animals (except service animals to aid guests with disabilities)
* Balloons (air or helium)
* Balls (beach balls, footballs, etc.)
* Banners or large flags
* Cameras with lenses longer than five inches or any detachable lens. Selfie Sticks also are prohibited.
* Chairs including folding chairs or stools
* Decals, stickers, confetti or glitter
* Drones and/or remote-controlled aircraft
* Electronic equipment including laptop computers, video recorders (hand-held video cameras are allowed), tripods and wearable video cameras including Go Pros.
* Food, beverages – including water – or liquids (cans, bottles, boxes, flasks, etc.)
* Illegal substances
* Knives, pocketknives, box cutters, scissors, etc.
* Laser pointers
* Marijuana including medically prescribed electronic accessories or paraphernalia associated with marijuana or illegal narcotics use.
* Markers (permanent) and/or paint
* Noisemaking devices (bells, horns, kazoos, whistles, etc.)
* Objects that can be used as missiles or projectiles (sticks, poles, bats, clubs, Frisbees, etc.)
* Strollers and infant car seats or carriers
* Umbrellas (large size)
* Wrapped gifts
The following items may be permitted after inspection:
* Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches, or a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc or similar). An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at the Gate.
* Infant items in a clear bag (bottles and formula) only if accompanied by a child
* Binoculars and binoculars cases not exceeding 4½ inches by 6½ inches may be brought in via one of the clear plastic bag options.
* Cameras (lenses may not measure longer than five inches or be detachable, and no tripods or extension cords)
* Small radios (no larger than the size of a football and used with an earpiece)
* Small, compact umbrellas (must be placed securely under seat)
* Posters and signs without poles or sticks, or larger than what one person can hold.
* Tablets (iPads, Kindles, etc.)
* Seat cushions not exceeding 15 inches by 15 inches. Seat cushions also must not contain arm rests, zippers, pockets, flaps or metal backs.
The complete list of prohibited items can be found on the Detroit Lions website. Prohibited items that are discovered during security inspections at stadium entrances must be returned to the owner's vehicle or discarded. Items will not be held for later pickup.
Fans are reminded that all image taking (still and video) may be only for personal, non-commercial use.
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 1.4 million spectators each year.