The future of all athletic programs, or the end of one?

Cutting summer practice time in half. Not being allowed to cut certain seniors or bring up underclassmen unless they are assured to play. Being encouraged to play more athletes at the possible expense of being competitive. What would be the response if your school tried to implement any of these policies?

Something similar is going on at a TVC East school. It hits close to home for me because sadly, it's going on where I grew up. Looking in from afar, I have some thoughts, and I wonder if yours would be the same if it happened in your hometown.

The school is attempting to put on paper what it says are basic philosophies that have always been part of the athletic program. But that seems dangerous.

Issue 1: Count me among those who agree summer training has gotten a little out of control. With 58 days of possible contact (practices, open gyms, etc.), there is hardly a day off. But the solution in my eyes is the MHSAA stepping in and changing things for every school — not one school making a personal crusade and in the process making itself unable to compete.

Issue 2: Who makes a team, and playing time. By varsity, these should no longer be issues. The best players play, athletes learn to compete and win. Others go on to activities where they too can excel and learn, or sit the bench and learn the lessons of contributing that way. In this case, seniors in the program three years and in good standing cannot be cut (and with this, I'm fine. I don't know many if any coaches who would do so). And the playing time edict — that more athletes should play more equal time — has more recently been said to be aimed at sub-varsity teams (although even then, this is something more for junior high). Either way, regulating things like this on paper is dangerous. It limits flexibility. It makes a mess of possible exceptions (What makes a senior in good standing? When does winning become more important?). And it would do more harm than good.

If you'd like to read the Saginaw News story about the new policies, here's the link. And here's a column that came in the aftermath further explaining both sides. So far, the successful volleyball and boys basketball coaches have allegedly resigned (there is lack of clarity there according to the reports).

Again, this is just my understanding by what I've read and heard. But are similar policies being discussed in your community? If so, what would be the response? It's fair to say in my sports-centered hometown, this has taken at least a chunk out of the election conversation.

About Geoff Kimmerly

Geoff Kimmerly was the Prep Sports reporter at the Lansing State Journal until September 23, 2011. Read his thoughts and thanks for his 14 seasons with the Lansing State Journal. 1,000 Thanks
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5 Responses to The future of all athletic programs, or the end of one?

  1. OneQuietOne says:

    I recently had a conversation with a prominent Athletic Director on the subject of High School Sports. I mentioned that athletics should be about competition, team comradery and fun. He disagreed on the “fun” part, stating that it’s about competition and “winning”.
    This was a conversation about JV and Freshman sports, not Varsity. I was stunned, to say the least.
    We wonder why sports participation is in a decline, this may be a good place to start. Many years ago–many many years ago–when I participated in sports, part of the reason was for the fun of playing. Remove the fun, and I am not certain I would have considered it worth the time and effort.

  2. wideout3485 says:

    Taking the fun out? last i knew winning was the fun part. i dont care how easy your practices are, if you aren’t winning chances are the kids aren’t having fun. It’s lazy people like you that don’t want to put in the effort that is wrong with this country, thinking everything should be handed out..heres a memo, life doesn’t work that way…
    “If your not the lead dog, the view never changes”

  3. OneQuietOne says:

    So without even knowing me, you have placed judgement on me? Wow. Please note that I never once mentioned anything to do with the hard work and effort put forth in practice, yet did not prevent you from making a broad assumption.
    I will admit that fun comes with winning. My point is that it should be fun no matter whether you are winning or losing. It’s just high school sports, after all.

  4. OneQuietOne says:

    So without even knowing me, you have placed judgement on me? Wow. Please note that I never once mentioned anything to do with the hard work and effort put forth in practice, yet did not prevent you from making a broad assumption.
    I will admit that fun comes with winning. My point is that it should be fun no matter whether you are winning or losing. It’s just high school sports, after all.

  5. GLCometFan says:

    Personally, I am happy that my son has sports to keep him occupied during the summer. He is in the weight room, 7 on 7 drills, football camp, basketball camp, at the Y, etc throughout the summer.
    Much better than sleeping in until 11 a.m. and then rolling over to turn on the PS3 or Xbox.
    To me, high school sports are where young men and women learn about the level of preparation that is required to be successful. We live in a competitive world, it’s certainly not always ‘fun’! They also learn how a team functions.
    ‘Practice players’ are hugely important to the success of the team. This doesn’t mean that everyone is going to see playing time at the JV/varsity level. Equal playing time ends at the lower levels.
    If a kid is not seeing playing time as a football player, maybe he should run cross-country? Or work harder? Or stick it out until he is a senior when his chances improve to play?

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