Official Results

August 15, 2017

We enjoy some privileges serving on the Michigan High school Athletic Association staff. However, one privilege we do not have is to ignore rules when we don’t enjoy their application.

One of the rules of Michigan school sports for very many years is that there is no protest of or appeal to the decisions of contest officials. Whether it is a traveling call in basketball, a safe/out call in baseball or softball, a five-yard illegal motion call, a 10-yard holding call, or a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct call in football with player or coach ejection, the call is final; and if the penalty calls for next-game disqualification, that is final too.

If after a contest, an official wishes he or she could take back a call, it’s too late. If after a contest, folks pressure an official to rescind the next-game disqualification, the outcome is unchanged: ejection from one contest for unsportsmanlike conduct requires suspension from the next day of competition.

The finality of high school officials’ calls has been challenged multiple times in courts across the country – twice in Michigan – and the nearly unanimous result nationwide has been that judges will not allow themselves to become super-referees, second guessing onsite contest officials.

On some higher levels of sports – e.g., college and professional – where there are dozens of cameras covering a handful of contests each week, league offices may review some decisions. But our level of sports lacks sophisticated cameras positioned at all angles, and it involves many hundreds of contests in several different sports every week. We have neither the time nor the technology at every venue to be involved in reviewing the calls of contest officials.

Last school year, there were nearly 1,000 player ejections and more than 200 coach ejections. School sports is not equipped to review 30 to 40 of these situations that arise each week; nor should we do so.

Officials see a play and make an instantaneous decision. Their calls are final; and living with the outcome is one of the valuable lessons we try to teach and learn in school-based sports.

From MSP Post to Postgame: Lieutenants Return to the (Football) Field

September 27, 2023

While fans are settling into another season, Michigan State Police Lt. Tedric Gibbs has been fully immersed in football for months.

The Jackson Post’s assistant post commander serves as assistant coach for Jackson High School’s varsity football team and for the team at Parkside Middle School.

“I started coaching when my older son was in youth sports, as a way to do something together that we both love,” Gibbs said. “My younger son followed the same path, so I joined his team too. I grew up in Jackson and am grateful to be able to serve my hometown from the sidelines and at our post.”

Lt. Mark Giannunzio officiates at the high school and college levels.Some 400 miles north, Lt. Mark Giannunzio is also a familiar face in and on the field. The MSP Negaunee Post assistant post commander and Eighth District public information officer enforces the rules of the game as a high school and college football official, the latter for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“I started at the high school level to stay involved in athletics and make authentic connections in the community,” Giannunzio said. “It’s rewarding to help teach the game and share knowledge of the rules. I currently have a full 11-game schedule in the GLIAC Division II college conference, with high school games interspersed during the year.”

The correlation among coaching, officiating and policing translates.

“With my fellow troopers, I want to inspire, motivate and encourage to get the most out of them,” Gibbs said. “I take the same approach with my players to figure out what they need from me, as their designated leader, to be as successful as they can. In both capacities, I do the work alongside them. We do it together.”

This approach is especially important when tough times surface. Lieutenant Gibbs’ high school team experienced tragedy right before its first game when a player died in a car crash.

“We focused on adversity,” said Gibbs, who was in a unique position to talk from a police perspective too. “It’s a benefit to have that insight and background and share it with what they can control – make good decisions and wear your seatbelt.”

Lieutenant Gibbs incorporates his coworkers when he can, like during spring conditioning when fellow troopers join him and his players, helping all involved to make new connections and build strong bonds between the students and officers.

Gibbs also coaches at Jackson Parkside Middle School.“One of the most important attributes in both careers is communication,” Giannunzio said. “Communication can make or break an official and a police officer. Much like selling a citation to a motorist, I need to be able to sell the penalty in a calm and professional manner. Demeanor and attitude go together on both the football field and when we are out patrolling in the Blue Goose.”

Treating everyone with dignity and respect is something Lieutenants Gibbs and Giannunzio commit to as members of a modern police agency and in their areas of expertise on the football field.

“Both roles afford so many opportunities to develop culture and cultivate teamwork,” Gibbs said. “The best part is watching others flourish and playing a part in their growth.”

PHOTOS (Top) Michigan State Police Lt. Tedric Gibbs, left, serves as an assistant football coach for the Jackson High varsity. (Middle) Lt. Mark Giannunzio officiates at the high school and college levels. (Below) Gibbs also coaches at Jackson Parkside Middle School. (Photos provided by the Michigan State Police.)