As I have covered prep sports over the years, I’ve gotten to know the in’s and out’s of many of the rules, regulations, and by-laws surrounding the WIAA, conferences, and schools, and it sometimes gives me a unique viewpoint on topics that people feel is beneficial. A number of times I’ve had coaches or other people tell me, “You should just handle conference realignment.” or “Why doesn’t the WIAA bring you in to do football playoff qualifiers and groupings?”
As tempting as it would be to take on such items if given the chance, quite honestly there’s no way I’m touching those things with a ten-foot pole. Controversial topics such as those only bring problems, as no matter how “good” of a job you may do, you’re still going to alienate and upset a section of schools, coaches, and fans.
Instead, if given the power to enact new rules (a “Prep Sports Czar”, if you will), I’d stick to the real problems facing high school sports these days. So, without further ado, here are the (mostly) tongue-in-cheek, “Get Off My Lawn!” changes I’d make as Prep Sports Czar.
- No. More. Cowbells. Moms love ringing cowbells at football games. I’m not sure why, but they do. Sitting high up in the bleachers at their son’s games, they want nothing more than to see their team get a five-yard gain so they can rattle the bell. But seriously, we don’t need to hear a dozen or so mothers ringing them 50-plus times per game. Second and six in the first quarter? No, Christopher Walken, we don’t need more cowbell. Boom, they’re eliminated.
- Elaborate, choreographed “handshakes” during game introductions have to go as well. Sweet, you combined the Freak Nasty, My Boo, Da Dip, and Macarena into a 30-second mash-up of flailing arms and contorted facial expressions. No one cares. Tap a hand, maybe give some dap, and move on. I think if some players spent as much time practicing free throws and box outs as they do handshake intros, they’d play a bit more.
- Growing up in the Michigan “Fab Five” era, I wasn’t immune to the clothing choices du jour, rocking the baggy shorts as a freshman in high school, which I paired with the popular-at-the-time knee-high socks. I realized a year later how foolish I looked and reverted back to regular attire. So perhaps I’m not the best fashion critic (my wife would certainly agree with that), but I’d get rid of the leggings that have become so popular in high school basketball. If we want to wear pants in basketball now, then let’s switch to pants. Otherwise, it’s shorts, with no leggings or spandex below the bottom hem. The only exception is if you want to wear the six-inch inseam shorts with knee-length spandex underneath, a la Kenny “Sky” Walker (must complete with high-top fade).
- The wrath of the Prep Sports Czar is not limited to athletes. I am forever banning the “rollercoaster” cheer and all variants from student sections.
- Speaking of the stands, all fans entering the game who wish to complain about officiating will be required to read the NFHS and WIAA rule books and pass a basic rules test. If you want to come and be quiet or only cheer for the team, that’s perfectly fine. But if you’re going to complain about officiating, you MUST know the actual rules. If you yell about a player fumbling the basketball without gaining control and then picking it up and dribbling, or don’t understand why a quarterback was called for intentional grounding when they were clearly out of the pocket and the ball got back to the line of scrimmage, then your complaining card has been revoked.
- All schools will have bands to perform pre-game at all varsity-level basketball and football games. Exceptions will be granted to those small schools that have more than half the band participating in the game or as cheerleaders. As much as I like a good warm-up mix tape (nothing will ever top Jock Jams however), there’s something special about running onto the field or court with a boisterous pep band blaring out Eye of the Tiger or perhaps a more contemporary option such as Uptown Funk.
- The National Anthem will be a live performance only. No scratchy recordings over the loudspeakers. The band will already be there, so they can take it often. Otherwise, a full choir, small vocal group, or soloist is allowed.
- All varsity-level football and basketball players will be required to attend the band and choir concerts to support their classmates who have supported them.
- All varsity-level athletes would be required to participate in choir, band, drama, debate, or another academic activity at some point during the year. These activities lead to more well-rounded student-athletes and provide an outlet for them to show their skills, enjoy the company of other students who they may not otherwise socialize with, and perhaps find a hidden talent or interest.
And now, GET OFF MY LAWN!