By John Raffel
July marks the month that Michigan high school sports teams take a break from all activity - for at least a week.
But it's the way the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) wants it. Many, but not all Michigan schools, have picked the first or second week of July as a designated summer dead period as mandated by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) representative council.
The council ruled that effective June 1 of this year, each school had to have a summer dead period and preseason downtime. The summer dead period is seven-consecutive calendar days after school ends in early June and when the district's athletic teams are no longer partaking in MHSAA events. There are exceptions including summer softball and baseball teams that are playing in various non-MHSAA sanctioned leagues, like American Legion, for example.
Those teams don't have to take a break during their schools' down period. The MHSAA says each district can pick its own dead time but many picked the week of the Fourth of July.
"Because of the holiday and other factors, we thought this would be the best time," Stanton-Central Montcalm Athletic Director John Kearney said.
During the dead period, there can be no involvement or contact by the school or coach with students in the seventh through 12th grades in any MHSAA sport. In effect, no school during this week can have open gyms, conditioning, or weight-lifting activities on school premises or sponsored by the school or coach at other facilities.
"The state said for schools to pick a date. I think most schools are picking the same time," Howard City Tri-County's Jeff Bauer said. "But it's a good idea of having a break like this. Student-athletes need to spend time with their families. It's a break, too, for the coaches."
The preseason down time specifies for no open gyms for a period of six to 14 days prior to the start of each season. Mainly, it's designed for from Aug. 1 to the start of fall sports practices, 14 calendar days before winter sports start, and from March 1 until the beginning of spring sports.