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MHSAA announces concussion report findings


2016-17 school year

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has completed its second year of collecting head injury reports from member schools and continues to build data that will assist in identifying trends and progress being made to reduce the incidence of head injuries in school sports.

Following a first mandate to do so in 2015-16, member schools again were required to report head injuries to the MHSAA identifying the sport that each student-athlete was participating in and whether the injury was sustained during practice or competition. As reporting for the 2017-18 school year is now underway, schools again are required to designate if potential concussions occur during competition or practice and at which level—varsity, junior varsity or freshman.

The full report of all head injuries experienced during 2016-17 by student-athletes at MHSAA member high schools—including percentages by sport (per 1,000 participants), gender and team level, as well as data tracking when athletes returned to play—is available on the Health & Safety page of the MHSAA Website at https://www.mhsaa.com/portals/0/Documents/health%20safety/concussionreport1617.pdf.

As with the first year of reporting, the MHSAA received data from more than 99 percent of its member high schools after the fall, winter and spring seasons and continued to track each injury report through its conclusion this summer. Member junior high and middle schools also were allowed, although not mandated, to report their potential head injuries; and those findings are not part of the published report.

The 2016-17 concussion report found an 11-percent decrease in the number of confirmed concussions from the previous year. Student-athletes at MHSAA member high schools encountered during 2016-17 a total of 3,958 head injuries—or 5.2 per member school, similar but lower than the 2015-16 average of 5.9. Total participation in MHSAA sports for 2016-17 was 283,625, with students counted once for each sport he or she played and only 1.4 percent of participants experienced a head injury; that percentage in 2015-16 was 1.6.

Although the total number of confirmed concussions was significantly lower in 2016-17, a number of findings detailing those injuries fell in line with results of the 2015-16 survey.

Boys experienced 2,607—or 66 percent—of those injuries, nearly the same ratio as 2015-16 and as boys participation in sports, especially contact sports, remained higher than girls. More than half of head injuries—55 percent—were experienced by varsity athletes, which also fell within a percent difference of last year’s findings.

A total of 2,973 head injuries—or 65 percent—came in competition as opposed to practice. More than half took place during either the middle of practice or middle of competition as opposed to the start or end, and 52 percent of injuries were a result of person-to-person contact. The largest percentage of athletes—27 percent—returned to activity after 6 to 10 days, while 23 percent of those who suffered head injuries returned after 11-15 days of rest. All of these findings were within 1-4 percent of those discovered from the 2015-16 data.

Contact sports again revealed the most head injuries. Ranking first was football, 11 and 8-player combined, with 44 head injuries per 1,000 participants—a decrease of five head injuries per 1,000 participants from 2015-16. Ice hockey repeated with the second-most injuries per 1,000, with 36 (down two injuries per 1,000 from 2015-16), and girls soccer was again third with 28 head injuries per 1,000 participants (also down two from the previous year).

In fact, after football and hockey, the next four sports to show the highest incidences of head injuries were girls sports—girls soccer followed by girls basketball (23 per 1,000), girls competitive cheer (22) and girls lacrosse (20). Although girls basketball moved up from fifth to fourth for highest ratio, it did see a decline of six injuries per 1,000 participants from 2015-16.

Startling indications of another potential trend were seen again in the number of reported head injuries suffered by girls and boys playing the same sports. Soccer, basketball and baseball/softball are played under identical or nearly identical rules. Just as in 2015-16, females in those sports reported significantly more concussions than males playing the same or similar sport.

Female soccer players reported double the concussions per 1,000 participants as male soccer players, while female basketball players reported nearly triple the number of concussions per 1,000 participants (23 to 8). Softball players reported 11 concussions per 1,000 participants, and baseball players reported four per 1,000. The numbers from all three comparisons remained consistent from what the survey found in 2015-16.

It is the hope that Michigan’s universities, health care systems and the National Federation of State High School Associations will take part in analyzing the data and questions that have arisen during the past two years. Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports submitted a paper titled “Gender Differences in Youth Sports Concussion” based on the 2015-16 results, and that subject will remain closely monitored in 2017-18 and beyond.

“The Institute’s research concluded that there is merit for believing females may be more susceptible than males to having concussions because of structural differences to the neck and head, and also due to neurological differences in the brains of females and males. But the findings also show merit for believing females may be more honest in reporting concussions,” said MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts.

“We need to find out why. Are girls just more willing to report the injury? Are boys hiding it? These are some of our most important questions moving forward, and they will be critical in our efforts to educate athletes, their parents and coaches on the importance of reporting and receiving care for these injuries immediately.”

Roberts said that while it’s significant to note the similarity in statistics over the first two years of injury report collection, the lower percentages in 2016-17 don’t necessarily represent a trend; that conclusion can only be made after more data is collected in years to come. Some differences in data from the first year to the second could be the result of schools’ increased familiarity with the reporting system, the refinement of the follow-up reporting procedure and other survey error that is expected to decrease with future surveys.

“Our first survey in 2015-16 raised some initial themes, and the data we collected this past year and will continue to collect will help us identify the trends that will guide our next steps in reducing head injuries in interscholastic athletics,” Roberts said. “However, the necessity for more data to determine these trends should not delay our efforts to experiment with more head protection and modified play and practice rules in contact sports like ice hockey, soccer, wrestling and lacrosse, which all ranked among the top 10 sports for numbers of head injuries per thousand participants.

“We will continue to look for ways to make our good games better and our healthy games safer, and the collection of this data will continue to prove key as we work toward those goals.”

Schools report possible concussions online via the MHSAA Website. Reports are then examined by members of the MHSAA staff, who follow up with school administrators as those student-athletes continue to receive care and eventually return to play. Student privacy is protected.

The reporting of possible concussions is part of a three-pronged advance by the MHSAA in concussion care begun during the 2015-16 school year. The MHSAA completed this past spring (2017) the largest-ever state high school association sideline concussion testing pilot program, with a sample of schools from across the state over the last two years using one of two screening tests designed to detect concussions. The second year of the pilot program (2016-17) allowed participating schools to use the sideline detection tests in all sports but mandated they be used in sports (11 total over three seasons) showing the highest prevalence of concussions.

The MHSAA also was the first state association to provide all participants at every member high school and junior high/middle school with insurance intended to pay accident medical expense benefits—covering deductibles and co-pays left unpaid by other policies—resulting from head injuries sustained during school practices or competitions and at no cost to either schools or families. During 2016-17, a total of 139 claims were made—20 fewer than in 2015-16—with  football (44) and girls basketball (27) the sports most cited in those claims for the second straight year.

Previously, the MHSAA also was among the first state associations to adopt a return-to-play protocol that keeps an athlete out of activity until at least the next day after a suspected concussion, and allows that athlete to return to play only after he or she has been cleared unconditionally for activity by a doctor (M.D. or D.O.), physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.

In addition, the MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program, which includes courses that must be completed by all varsity head coaches hired for the first time at a member school, has augmented for this fall its already substantial instruction on concussion care. Separately, rules meetings that are required viewing for all varsity and subvarsity head and assistant coaches at the start of each season include detailed training on caring for athletes with possible head injuries.

 

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High School Track successful at State


Brandon Sawade with Coach Lett.

Cedar Springs senior Tara Tepin, junior Brandon Sawade, and senior Alex Douglas all competed at the MHSAA Division 2 State Track finals.

Coach Rob Neier, senior Tara Tepin, and Coach Covey.

On Saturday, June 3, at Zeeland Stadium, three members of the boys and girls track team competed in the MHSAA Division 2 State Finals Track Meet.

Senior Tara Tepin placed in both the 100 and 300 meter hurdles and earned all state honors. Tara lowered her school record in the 100-meter hurdles in the prelim race to 15.26 to qualify for the finals, where she placed fifth with a time of 15.34. Tara ran the 300 hurdles in 46.79, just short of her school record in that event, for eighth place. Tara also earned academic all state in both events.

Junior Brandon Sawade and senior Alex Douglas competed in the meet for the boys team. Brandon placed fourth in the pole vault with a jump of 13 feet 7 inches and earned all state honors. Alex competed in the 110-meter hurdles and ran a time of 15.52 in his preliminary race, but did not advance to the finals in the event. Alex placed 12th overall in the event.

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Be the Referee


Recruiting Officials

One of the most challenging tasks for the MHSAA is the recruitment and retention of game officials and referees.

In many cases, the job of the referee can be a thankless one. It’s an avocation where others expect an official to be perfect on their very first day on the job, and then improve on that performance.

Officials must be fit, knowledgeable on the rules, decisive and most importantly, have good people skills in handling competitive situations with emotional players, coaches and fans. While this can be a great challenge, many of our officials find this experience to be incredibly rewarding.

There is no better feeling than to officiate a game where the rules are fairly enforced, judgment calls are made decisively and the teams involved determine the outcome of the game.

If you are interested in becoming a part of this great team, go to MHSAA.com to learn more about officiating and how to get started in this rewarding avocation.

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Be the referee: Concussions 


 

By Mark Uyl, Asst. Director, MHSAA

In all contact sports, the biggest issue of the day continues to be concussions. Game officials play a vital role in keeping athletes safe on the field, court, ice and mat. While officials are never placed in the position to diagnose a possible concussion, the officials can often see when a player first becomes injured. When that possible injury is noticed by an official, all game rules require the contest be stopped and the student is evaluated by the school’s health care team. It then becomes the call of the school to determine if the player has suffered a possible concussion. If yes, the player is out for at least the rest of that day. If no, the player can return to the contest.

Be the Referee is a weekly message from the Michigan High School Athletics Association that is designed to help educate people on the rules in different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

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Clipping clipped as 2016-17 high school sports year begins


 

By John Johnson, MHSAA

 

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Clipping has been eliminated in high school football, the biggest playing rules change on the horizon for member schools of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, which formally begin practice for 2016-17 fall sports next week.

Practice in football must begin on Aug. 8 for all schools wishing to begin regular-season games the weekend of Aug. 25-27. Schools must have 12 days of preseason practice at all levels before their first game, and those 12 days of practice may not occur before 16 calendar days.

Practice sessions for all other sports begin Wednesday (Aug. 10). In golf and tennis, competition may commence no earlier than after three separate days of team practice, and not before seven calendar days. The first day competition may take place in golf and tennis is Aug. 17. In all other fall sports, contests can take place after seven days of practice for the team and not before nine calendar days. The first day competition may take place in cross country, tennis, soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball is Aug. 19.

This fall, two football dates again precede Labor Day, and a number of MHSAA schools will play their first varsity games on Thursday, Aug. 25. In Week 1, 131 varsity games will be played on Thursday, 169 contests will be played on Friday, and 17 games will be played on Saturday. In the second week, 245 games will take place on Thursday, 62 will be played on Friday and 6 contests are on Saturday.

Eliminating clipping from the high school game is the latest step in the national playing rules promulgated by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Clipping previously was permitted in the free-blocking zone when it met three conditions; however, clipping is now illegal anywhere on the field at any time. According to the rule, the free-blocking zone is defined as a rectangular area extending laterally 4 yards either side of the spot of the snap and 3 yards behind each line of scrimmage.

A few notable changes will go into effect for other fall sports:

•  In cross country, a participant who assists an injured or ill competitor when the appropriate health care professional is not available no longer will be disqualified from the race; only the runner receiving assistance will be disqualified for not finishing the race unassisted.

•  In soccer, changes were made to the offside rule that makes it match offside rules for the NCAA and FIFA/USSF. The most notable change states that a player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save) is not considered to have gained an advantage and can move ahead toward attempting to score a goal. A player who does receive the ball while in offside position after a deliberate save remains offside, and the result is an indirect kick for the defending team.

•  Also in soccer, eliminating of rough play will be a point of emphasis this school year. Rough play including contact above the shoulder often results in player injury.

•  In volleyball, a change to rules on uniforms aims to make the libero more recognizable from all angles. Beginning this fall, the libero, her teammates, or both will be required to wear a solid-colored uniform top; the libero’s top must clearly contract the predominant color(s) of her teammates’ uniform tops. Also related to the uniforms, soft hair devices, formerly no more than two inches in width, may now be up to three inches in width.

•  Also in volleyball, a service toss that contacts a basketball backboard or its supports in a vertical position over the serving area is a service fault and not eligible for a re-serve. The opponent receives a point and the next serve.

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Officials registration underway


 

The Michigan High School Athletic Association is accepting registrations by mail and online for game officials for the 2016-17 school year.

The MHSAA annually receives registration by more than 10,000 officials, and had 10,043 during the 2015-16 school year. The highest total of officials registered for basketball, 4,265, with football, softball and baseball all with more than 2,000 registered officials during this school year.

For all new and returning officials, those who register online again will receive a $5 discount off their processing fees. A $15 fee is charged for each sport in which an official wishes to register, and the online processing fee is $35. Officials submitting registration forms by mail or on a walk-up basis will incur a $40 processing fee. Officials registered in 2015-16 will be assessed a late fee of $30 for registration after Aug. 1. The processing fee includes liability insurance coverage up to $1 million for officials while working contests involving MHSAA schools.

Online registration can be accessed by clicking “Officials” on the home page of the MHSAA Website at www.mhsaa.com. Forms also are available online that can be printed and submitted by traditional mail or hand delivery to the MHSAA Office. More information about officials registration may be obtained by contacting the MHSAA at 1661 Ramblewood Drive, East Lansing, MI, 48823, by phone at (517) 332-5046 or by e-mail at register@mhsaa.com.

There is an officials’ registration test for first-time officials and officials who were not registered during the past school year. The test consists of 45 questions derived from the MHSAA Officials Guidebook, which also is available on the Officials page of the MHSAA Website. Additional 50-question exams must be taken by those registering for football or basketball for the first time or those who were not registered for those sports during the previous school year. Manuals for both sports also are available on the Officials page. New officials also must complete the online MHSAA Principles of Officiating course, also available on the MHSAA Website.

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Two Cross Country runners qualify for state finals 


Red Hawk Cross Country runners Ellie Ovokaitys and Dallas Mora qualified for the state finals.

Red Hawk Cross Country runners Ellie Ovokaitys and Dallas Mora qualified for the state finals.

Two Cedar Springs High School cross country runners finished regionals with a treat, after a tricky race day on October 31.

The Cedar Springs Cross Country team and supporters traveled north to Gaylord on a cold, wet, ghoulish Halloween day. The girls and boys teams competed in the MHSAA Regional race for a chance to race one more time before ending their season. There were many pleasing results, despite the blustery weather the runners had to endure.

“I’m very pleased with my team’s performances,” boasted Coach Marie Covey. “Nearly all of the girls ran their fastest race of the season.” Ellie Ovokaitys not only ran her best race of the season, but ran well enough to be a qualifier for the State Finals this coming Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

Also, qualifying is Dallas Mora from the boy’s team. (See other story on this page.) Congratulations Ellie and Dallas.

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Be the referee


 

By Mark Uyl, Asst. Director, MHSAA

Be the Referee is a weekly message from the Michigan High School Athletics Association that is designed to help educate people on the rules in different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Playoff selection 

As the regular season reaches the halfway point, the MHSAA begins to look ahead to the five weeks of the football playoffs. Crews and officials are selected at mid-season for the tournament based on a number of factors. Each official receives a rating from both schools following every game worked, and this rating average serves as the starting point for selection with the highest rated crews being considered first. The MHSAA also considers experience of the crew, recommendations for leagues and officials associations, football rule exam score that each official completes, as well as the strength of the schedule the crew has worked during the season. All of these factors are considered when selected the very best officials to work the most important games of the season.

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Weiler brings home state championship


S-Track-girls1-Kenzie-State

On Saturday, May 30, three members of the Cedar Springs girls track team competed in the MHSAA Division 2 State Track Meet in Zeeland. Senior Kenzie Weiler brought home the school’s first Track and Field state championship by winning the 3200 meter run. With 500 meters to go, Kenzie took the lead and ran away from the rest of the field. She won with a new school record time of 10:41.98 and was just two seconds off from setting a new Division 2 state record in the 3200 meter run.

Kenzie received All State honors in track and field and, combined with her achievement in the classroom, she also earned Academic All State in Track and Field. In the fall, Kenzie will continue her education and running career at Michigan State University.

S-Track-girls2-Kenzie-Award-StandSophomore Tara Tepin competed in two events, in her first trip to the state finals. Tara placed 19th in the 100 hurdles and ran a career best 47.21 in the 300 hurdles, for an 11th place finish. Junior Allyson Marvel also in her first trip to the state finals placed 18th in the pole vault with a vault of 8’ 11”.

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Be the referee


 

By Mark Uyl, Asst. Director, MHSAA

Be the Referee is a weekly message from the Michigan High School Athletics Association that is designed to help educate people on the rules in different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Pass Interference 

Today we’re going to talk about one of the most difficult calls for any football official—pass interference. It’s important to know that whenever a forward pass is thrown beyond the line of scrimmage that both players—the offensive receiver as well as the defender—each have an equal right to make a play on the football.

Now, not all contact will automatically result in a pass interference foul. The official must judge if that early contact before the ball arrives has placed one of the two players at a distinct disadvantage. When that contact does create the disadvantage, you have a foul for pass interference. When the contact is minimal and is simply incidental, no foul has occurred.

Asst. Director Mark Uyl oversees the MHSAA’s officiating efforts, and is an accomplished collegiate official in two sports. He also umpired the NCAA College World Series in 2014.

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