OUR VIEWS: Out of season

Aug 23, 2012

 

In fact, official practices for prep football teams this “fall” began Aug. 6 — about an entire month before school begins Sept. 4. The remainder of the fall sports teams began practice Aug. 8.

By the time members of the Spring Lake varsity girls golf team attend their first chemistry class this fall, they’ll have competed in six invitationals. Their season will be nearly half over.

The Grand Haven varsity volleyball squad will have played in three invitationals and a quad meet before hearing the school bell rings for the first time.

Prep football teams across the state will each have played two games before the start of the school year.

This phenomenon is not isolated to the fall sports season. Most schools close their doors after the first week of June — yet baseball, softball, soccer and golf seasons stretch well into the middle of the month.

Athletes who play in both a spring sport one year and a fall sport the next school year may only get eight or nine weeks off from the end of one season and the start of another. Except that during that “time off,” they’re attending team camps and offseason conditioning, and “voluntary” player-led practice sessions.

When did school sports stop becoming school sports and turn into a year-round commitment?

Athletics and other extra-curricular activities are vital parts of a well-rounded educational experience. Being part of a team, and learning the virtues of hard work and sportsmanship are much more important in the long run than wins and losses.

School sports are also about getting the student body involved, and that’s hard to do when contests are taking place weeks before school is in session.

Schools aren’t necessarily the ones to blame. The Michigan High School Athletic Association sets the start dates and tournament schedules for all varsity prep sports seasons. As playoffs expand and the number of sports teams continues to grow, the MHSAA has responded by stretching seasons out longer and longer.

We cherish high school sports in our community, and urge youngsters to get involved wherever possible. But we would remind the MHSAA that these are school sports, and urge the association to not lose sight of the fact that these are in fact school-sponsored sports and should attempt to conform with the academic year whenever possible.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.
 

Comments

PeopleAreAmazing

Really???? Just look around at the progress GH schools have made in competitive sport - state championships in some - runners up in others - conference championships in still others. This doesn't happen because we just want it to. It takes work. Your column suggests that all of this is a new phenomenon - the schedules have been like this for some time. The difference is that we are now operating in a year round environment. That is exactly what it takes to compete. If a child wants to compete, they'll do the work. If it's too much work, they won't. Don't make an issue out of something that isn't. Goodness.

PeopleAreAmazing

Really???? Just look around at the progress GH schools have made in competitive sport - state championships in some - runners up in others - conference championships in still others. This doesn't happen because we just want it to. It takes work. Your column suggests that all of this is a new phenomenon - the schedules have been like this for some time. The difference is that we are now operating in a year round environment. That is exactly what it takes to compete. If a child wants to compete, they'll do the work. If it's too much work, they won't. Don't make an issue out of something that isn't. Goodness.

Band71

yes, and it's great for many reasons. 1) the teens/kids have some structure over the summer to keep them out of activities that might otherwise be unsafe or undesirable. 2) it keeps them fit and conditioned, which helps to avoid injury during season. 3) it is safer conditioning with the team, coach, and trainors then on their own over summer so they can be sure they are working out, running and weight lifting correctly with supervision. 4) It builds team comraderie and underclassmen get to know some upperclassmen before school starts. 5) the seasons of some sports cannot start too late or weather could end the season before all matches could be played (golf, XC, and more). I disagree with some of the comments regarding the student body not being able to get involved, because many of the contests that do take place prior to school starting are actually easier for students and some parents to attend because schedules get pretty crazy once school starts and homework begins.
The spring sports also beging conditioning 3 months or more prior to their season/try outs.
No one is kicked off or reprimanded if they can't make the conditioning or practices due to work schedules, family vacations, etc.

ghtresident

The fact is...if these kids want to play sports in college, then they HAVE to do this work. If they take just one summer off of conditioning, they will more than likely not get noticed by scouts at the tournament events. I hate giving up my summers with my kids, but if they can get a college scholarship and they enjoy what they are doing, then why throw a fit? I would rather my daughter be out chasing a soccer ball all summer than chasing the boy down the street.

Highlander

Less than 1% of students win a full college scholarship.

This "get a scholarship" goal that some have has made it so kids have to specialize, train play year 'round. Most kids just burn out.

PeopleAreAmazing

Please share the statistics that back up your claim. I do not believe that "most" kids burn out. Some, yes. Most, nope.

Highlander

It took two seconds. Share your data to back up "some". ;) BTW, I was an athlete at the college level and a coach at the scholastic varsity level for 20 years.

..."In those two sports, the number of Division I scholarships offered in a given year accounts for less than half a percent of high school participants." (Dial, 2010)

http://www.chron.com/sports/coll...

"There are 6.9 million high school athletes, how will you stand out" - “There are 254,000 seniors who play high school football. There are only 5,042 athletic scholarships awarded at the D1 level. Your odds are 1-50 that you get a scholarship.” (Galehouse)
http://www.varsityedge.com/nei/v...

"A study of numbers provided by the National High School Federation and the NCAA shows that the participants in boys wrestling have the longest odds of earning an athletic scholarship. Boys soccer is a close second." (Mason)
http://rivals.yahoo.com/highscho...

1%-1.6%
http://www.fastweb.com/student-n...

PeopleAreAmazing

....I was actually hoping your could share some statistics on your comments "most kids burn out". As we both know, there is more benefit to participating in sports than gaining a scholarship. I don't dispute the challenges in getting a D1 scholarship - just your comment that most kids burn out. Please explain.

Soloman

The problem isn't that the sports year is too long, it's that the academic year is too short.

Boater

I think it's fantastic that the students are dedicated to playing sports. I'd much rather have our kids playing lacrosse, football, basketball and many other sports than sitting in front of the TV. If it keeps them busy and they are enjoying themselves, I don't see the harm. Is it time consuming and sometimes a scheduling nightmare for the parents?? Yes, But when we get to see them compete and they are having fun, I'm all for it! These years go by so fast and this might be the only time in their lives that they get to put on that football helmet and pads and play the sport that they love.

GH55

Labor Day Starting Date:

The board of a school district, intermediate school district, or the board of directors of a public school academy shall not schedule pupil instruction prior to Labor Day (MCL 380.1284b). Public schools are not prohibited from offering or requiring professional development for its personnel before Labor Day.

So tell me what is more important in this state: learning or sports? It is a rhetorical question.

 

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