Seasons change: participation declines dramatically

Published 5:49 am Wednesday, April 12, 2006

By Staff
In sports, athletes learn they must play the full game to be successful. 
That's true in life and litigation as well; and no less than the U.S. Supreme Court has said to “play on” in the litigation addressing high school sports seasons.
At no stage in this case has evidence been produced that scholarship opportunities are diminished for girls in Michigan. The only documentation offered on this topic proved the opposite - that girls in Michigan receive more exposure and more athletic scholarships.
But that issue misses the point altogether, because college scholarships are not the objective of school sports. The purpose is participation, where Michigan ranks fourth nationally in girls high school athletes in spite of being eighth in the nation in high school age female population.
Plaintiffs sued to change seasons in six sports; and in all six, Michigan ranks higher nationally in girls participation than boys participation. In four of the six, there are actually more girls playing the sport than boys in Michigan, including basketball. And the sport at the center of the litigation - volleyball - is the most popular girls high school sport in Michigan.
Michigan schools set the sports seasons with a purpose, which was to maximize participation; and the purpose is being achieved. The MHSAA's only purpose is to preserve what the athletes, parents, coaches, administrators and school board members have determined is best. These people know what other states have discovered after seasons were changed: participation declines dramatically.
Those who really listen to and care for those who would be affected will not quit listening and caring while there is a lot of time left in the game and a chance - in fact a very good likelihood - their cause will prevail.
In this litigation, Michigan schools are right on the facts and right on the law. Plaintiffs argue that any difference is in and of itself discrimination, forgetting the law permits for girls and boys different teams, different sports, different events, different competitive rules. 
The federal government has previously found that different seasons for girls and boys are not discriminatory; and the federal courts will confirm their agreement when this contest comes to an end.