MHSAA: Fall Sports Are Back
High school athletes will be returning to practice this upcoming week. According to a release from the Michigan High School Athletic Association on Friday, teams participating in all nine sports for which the MHSAA sponsors postseason tournaments will be allowed to practice on Monday, August 9th. Following a COVID-19 altered schedule last year, traditional schedules and MHSAA Tournament formats will return.
Along with the return to form, certain rule changes will be in place for certain sports. For playoff football, the “enhanced strength-of-schedule” format will eliminate automatic qualification based on win totals. Instead, the new system will be based on playoff-point average and award teams for playing tougher schedules. For a more detailed comparison of previous and new formats:
Other rule changes are also in store for cross country, football, golf and tennis this fall:
- Cross Country will provide an opportunity for more individual Finals qualifiers this season, as a minimum of seven individual qualifiers will advance from each Regional race. Previously, runners on teams that did not qualify as a whole could still advance to the Finals if they finished among the top 15 individuals at a Regional – but at some Regionals runners from the team qualifiers filled the great majority of those top 15 finishes. The seven individual qualifiers from each Regional this season will be the first seven finishers from teams that do not qualify as a whole, even if they finish outside of the top 15.
- Another football change continues the focus on minimizing injury risk, addressing blocking below the waste in the free-blocking zone (the rectangular area extending laterally four yards to either side of the snap and three behind the line of scrimmage). The new rule states a below-the-waste block in the free-blocking zone must occur as an immediate, initial action following the snap, instead of the previous rule which allowed an offensive lineman to delay and block below the waste as long as the ball was still in the zone.
- For Lower Peninsula girls golf, teams will be required to use the scoring platform iWanamaker also for the regular season, just as they were required to do so for MHSAA Tournament competition during the 2020-21 school year. The scoring platform is made available through the MHSAA Golf app, which was created and is operated by iWanamaker and allows golfers, coaches and fans to chart scoring in real time.
- In tennis, if a seeded player withdraws on the day of an MHSAA Regional or Final, all seeded players below that withdrawing player (including the provisional seed in that flight) will move up and be placed on the proper line for that new seed. (Non-seeded players drawn into the bracket will not be moved.)