Beginning this fall, Michigan high schools will have the opportunity to combine two or more schools in their districts to field teams in nine sports.
The representative council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) approved the recommendation earlier this month at its spring meeting and announced the initiative on Friday.
The sports involved are baseball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and wrestling, plus competitive cheer. With approval by the MHSAA executive committee, eligible schools can now form co-op teams in these sports regardless of enrollment limits.
Previously, schools forming co-op teams in these nine sports had to have an enrollment of fewer than 1,000 students, according to the MHSAA. Sports such as hockey and lacrosse with fewer than 250 participating schools have been permitted to have co-op teams as long as their total enrollments do not exceed 3,500 students, the Detroit Free Press reported. There are more than 1,400 MHSAA member schools.
The goal of the co-op initiative is to help school districts in cities such as Detroit, Lansing, Flint and Saginaw field competitive teams. Lansing Sexton High School has dropped in enrollment from 2,100 students in the mid-1980s to 600 today, according to the newspaper.
Lansing Sexton athletic director Chris Henderson, who also serves as the school’s wrestling coach, sees the positives and the negatives of the co-ops. The disadvantages include picking up students at multiple schools and the loss of a school’s identity.
“The advantages are participation numbers and teams would be fuller,” Henderson told the newspaper. “No. 2, the overall district budget and the school athletic budgets wouldn’t be hit as hard because we’d be sharing those things. No. 3 … it would be pulling the Lansing community together. Overall, it’s probably a positive move.”
The executive council of the MSHAA also approved a football committee recommendation stating that football teams should only hold up to 90 minutes of collision practice per week after their first game. Michigan high school teams had been allowed two days of collision practice after their first game.