EAST LANSING — The Michigan High School Athletic Association has implemented several policy changes for the upcoming school year, primarily dealing with athlete safety and transfer rules.
“Improving acclimatization is one thrust, and the second is reduced head-to-head contact in practice all season long,” MHSAA executive director John Roberts said.
The 2013-14 season was the first for a new policy on heat and humidity procedures, and football in particular will continue to see more scrutiny.
“They implemented it with less resistance and more enthusiasm and more training than I imagined they would,” Roberts said. “They know any death from heat illness is someone’s mistake. It should not happen. There should never be one. Heat illness is one of those things in sports that is entirely preventable. Unlike so many other things we cannot control, that we can. And schools get that.”
Football practices will not be allowed to wear full pads for one more day than in the past.
Last year, it was the first three days. Now it will be two days with helmets only and two more with shoulder pads.
Teams will also only be allowed to conduct one full contact — or “collision” — practice in a day prior to the first game, even during preseason two-a-days. After the first game, teams can engage in no more than two full contact practices per week, non exceeding three hours. And total practice time for two-a-days cannot exceed five hours. Those totals do not include weight lifting or video sessions.
Athletic-related transfer rules will be fully enforced this year, Roberts said.
“We are in the midst of doing more to toughen our eligibility rules related to transfers that any time in out history since the transfer rules was first adopted in a rudimentary form back in the 1980s,” he said.