NFHS Voice: Should Tech Aid Performance?

March 13, 2020

By Karissa Niehoff
NFHS Executive Director

One of the age-old objectives of the NFHS has been to preserve the records, tradition and heritage of education-based athletics and activities programs in the United States.

As the leader and advocate for high school sports and activities, the NFHS has been keeping records set by high school athletes since the first National High School Sports Record Book was published by the NFHS in 1978. The Record Book was printed annually until 2010, when it was moved online to

Names of more than 100,000 high school student-athletes have appeared in the Record Book in the past 42 years; and while there are a few individuals and teams still remaining from that first publication, in the spirit of “records are made to be broken,” most categories have had multiple leaders.

In addition to bringing proper recognition to high school student-athletes, coaches and teams who achieve outstanding performances in interscholastic athletic competition, we believe this recognition stimulates interest in high school athletic programs and motivates other competitors to improve their skills.

And we have strived that only records set in the spirit of good sportsmanship and fair play are entered in the Record Book.

It is understandable that records are broken frequently, with continual improvements in equipment, nutrition, training methods and – most recently – technology. However, at what point do some of these improvements, particularly ever-changing technology, begin to affect the No. 1 principle of rules writing for the NFHS: Fair Play? 

The NFHS has been writing playing rules for high school sports since the 1930s when it published football and basketball rules for the first time. Baseball and track & field were added in the 1940s, followed by wrestling in the 1960s and many others in the 1970s.     

It is impossible that the early rules writers could have envisioned the advances in technology and how some of these improvements challenge rules writing today. Although the question about whether to utilize instant replay for game-ending plays has drawn much attention, some of the personal technology items – and the increasing presence of drones at athletic events – are more onerous.

With high-tech watches, and electronic devices such as cell phones and tablets, the ability to view and process data during actual competition is readily available, which leads to the ethical question of whether this use of technology unfairly aids performance.

This topic has generated a great deal of discussion, and some high school sports allow limited use of technology devices by coaches during games. However, when athletes are competing against each other on the field or court, the stakes should be even. No competitor in high school sports should gain an unfair advantage over an opponent based on anything other than his or her athletic preparedness for a contest.

At other levels of sport, particularly at the Olympic and professional levels, history shows that the pursuit of winning rather than the pursuit of excellence becomes the focus. While we understand the pressure to win at these levels, there is a very recent and clear example of the misuse of technology with the sign-stealing scandal in Major League Baseball.

In high school sports, the focus should not be on winning but having fun. NFHS playing rules, which are used by almost eight million participants across 17 sports, will continue to focus on risk minimization, sportsmanship and fair play.

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS, which celebrated its 100th year of service during the 2018-19 school year. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.

This Week in High School Sports: 3/21/23

By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

March 21, 2023

This final edition for the 2022-23 school year reviews all four MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals and highlights some of the top performances from Boys Basketball Regional play. 

MI Student AidThe 5-minute program each week includes feature stories from or network affiliates, along with "Be the Referee," a 60-second look at the fine art of officiating.

"This Week in High School Sports" is powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Listen to this week's show by Clicking Here.

Past editions

March 15: Ice Hockey Finals review, Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals highlights - Listen
March 8:
Individual Wrestling Finals review, Competitive Cheer Finals highlights - Listen
March 1:
Midland heroes, Team Wrestling Finals review - Listen
Feb. 22:
Basketball Districts begin, Finals cap Upper Peninsula swimming & diving season - Listen
Feb. 15:
Hockey tournament changes, MHSAA social media - Listen
Feb. 8:
Winter Postseason Starts, Scholar-Athlete Award - Listen
Feb. 1:
Kent City coach Jill Evers, "Officials Appreciation Week" - Listen
Jan. 25:
Historic hoops wins, Michigan's national ranking in sports participation - Listen
Jan. 18:
Brad Bush joins MHSAA, Al DeMott sets coaching record - Listen
Jan. 4:
Winter Championships, Officials Recruitment - Listen
Nov. 23:
8-Player Football Finals, Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals, Volleyball Finals - Listen
Nov. 18:
Concussion Myths, Navea Gauthier's record-setting Shelby volleyball season - Listen
Nov. 11:
Lower Peninsula Cross Country, Boys Soccer Finals review - Listen
Nov. 2:
Football Playoffs Week 1 notables, Fall 2022 championships and broadcasts - Listen
Oct. 26:
Football Playoffs pairings selection, Upper Peninsula Cross Country Finals - Listen
Oct. 19:
Sunday Selection Show, Lower Peninsula Girls Golf & Boys Tennis Finals - Listen
Oct. 12:
25th Women In Sports Leadership Conference highlights - Listen
Oct. 5:
Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals champions, Rockford's Anna Tracey - Listen
Sept. 28:
MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits return, Owosso's Macy Irelan - Listen
Sept. 21:
MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Marquette's Maddy Stern - Listen
Sept. 14:
MHSAA record books, Detroit Renaissance's Kaila Jackson - Listen
Sept. 7:
Sports Participation rebounding, Paw Paw's Paige Miller - Listen
Aug. 31:
Michigan Power Ratings and soccer seeding, Fenton's Gracie Olsen - Listen
Aug. 24:
Redesigned, key dates and how to watch football in 2022 - Listen