Friday, June 11, 2010

MHSAA bullies Kaddurah & Company

Track fans can scratch that hoped-for mile record tomorrow night. According to various sources, Omar Kaddurah and several other key Michigan athletes have withdrawn from the Midwest Distance Gala because the MHSAA has reportedly threatened their eligibility.

Disclaimer: I have not directly communicated with any of the parties involved at this point. My opinions here are based on years of past experience with similar stories.

My stomach turned when I got this news. This is what happens when ADs ask the MHSAA for interpretations on summer competitions: they never get a simple yes (or no). Instead, they are often given verbal discouragements, with written responses slow or non-existant. And even though summer competitions like the MDG are perfectly fine within MHSAA rules as we know them (as long as no school checks, uniforms, or transport are involved), the organization somehow feels it gains by scaring athletes away from such meets.

We all lose when this happens. And while I am thankful for all the MHSAA does for student athletes in this state, it would be ridiculous to think that we couldn't do better. Where are the foes of big government when we need them? Here is a quasi-governmental organization with great power, and it is only answerable (in a distant way) to athletic directors and principals. Not to the people the organization purports to serve: student athletes and their families. And yet this organization supports itself with funds raised on the backs of our student-athletes. When they overule the parents and dictate what students can and can't do on their summer vacations, it feels wrong to me.

Is anyone else out there troubled by this? I would love to see an athlete challenge the MHSAA on this. Look up your history, on the great running legend Gerry Lindgren challenging the NCAA to run in national championships and the USA vs USSR track meet in 1965. They threatened to take away his eligibility. His stand took guts, and it was the right thing to do. Where are those heroes today?

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