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MSHSL Directors meeting addresses football issues, approves section assignments

The board of directors of the MSHSL convened April 11 with some notable information on policy regulations for the upcoming 2013 football season, along with the approval for two years of the recent competitive section assignments.


At the request of the Football Advisory Committee and staff, the Board authorized staff to seek approval for an experimental rule yet to be developed that addresses an issue involving kickoffs. The League has been experimenting for two years already and will continue for the third and final year with the 2013 season with a rule that prohibits overloading the formation by the kicking team. The experimental rule requires that the kicking team place a minimum of four players on each side of the ball. The yet-to-be-developed experimental rule, pending authorization from the National Federation, will address “bunch kicking.” This is a technique employed by some teams to kick the ball to a designated spot at least 10 yards down the field to which the remaining players gravitate to attempt to gain possession of the ball. Both experimental rules are intended to address safety concerns such as the potential of concussions and other devastating injuries that could occur with too many players colliding at the same spot on the field in an attempt to gain possession of the kicked ball.

Associate Directors Kevin Merkle and Craig Perry, as well as Executive Director Stead, briefed the Board on a number of issues impacting football. One concerns the amount and kind of contact that players may have during the summer months. Working with the coaches association due to concerns that there have been no guidelines that regulate football practice and scrimmages during the summer like there are during the regular season, a draft proposal was presented. It addresses the amount of physical contact players may have with each other following a required five-day acclimatization period to weather conditions. It also limits the number of practices with player physical contact to seven during the summer coaching waiver period, and it also limits any kind of practice to two hours or less. It also prohibits inter-school scrimmages or games during that same period. It does allow 7-on-7 play, provided pads are not used and there is no contact in practice that same day and that players are given at least three hours of rest between practice and play. A second proposal which amends Bylaw 502 adds language that would limit an individual football player to no more than six quarters of play during any consecutive three-day period. Another issue that staff will explore concerns how member schools deal with lending protective equipment to players for summer camps and clinics. Guidelines may be developed that address risk and liability issues that arise with the lending of equipment, particularly football helmets, and assessment of their condition between the time they are returned at the end of the summer camps/clinics period and before they are reissued to players for the following school season. Merkle also indicated that discussion needs to continue about alternatives for the scheduling of football games.

Also, the competitive section assignments for the next two school years, 2013-14 and 2014-15, were formally approved by the Board. At a March workshop session, Board members reviewed the assignments that had previously been reviewed and approved by the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee, authorizing Executive Director Dave Stead to immediately implement them prior to formal approval by the Board at its April meeting. A Section Assignments tab has been available on the home page of the League website since then and remains available. It includes links to maps and lists of section assignments.

The entire meeting synopsis is available on the MSHSL website.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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