It is appropriate to take the longest day of the year to address one of the long tails of the longest lawsuit in MHSAA history.

In August of 2002, a US District Court gave Upper Peninsula schools three choices for remediating gender discrimination in their sports seasons. They were told to switch seasons for girls volleyball and basketball and do one of three additional things:

    1.    Place boys and girls in the same season in all sports; or
    2.    Place UP seasons at the same time as Lower Peninsula seasons in all sports; or
    3.    Switch UP boys and girls seasons in either soccer or tennis.

For a host of reasons in this state and all others, it has made good sense for many sports to schedule boys and girls in different seasons; and for very many years for many good reasons, UP schools have scheduled their seasons differently than LP schools in several sports. So options 1 and 2 were non-starters.

As for the third option: after girls volleyball and girls basketball, the sport for which UP schools least wanted to have switched seasons was tennis. So soccer was the UP sport selected for the court-approved switched seasons for boys and girls.

In July of 2007, the Federal Court denied a Motion by Intervenors to extract UP soccer from its earlier Order so that UP soccer would not be forced to switch seasons for boys and girls. At the same time in a separate Order, the Federal Court denied a Motion to extract LP tennis from the earlier Order.

The LP tennis community was and is as unhappy with the Federal Court Order as the UP soccer community. In fact, LP tennis has had the greatest participation loss of all sports since the seasons changes, including an almost 23 percent decline in boys tennis participation. Almost one-quarter fewer boys are playing high school tennis today than before the seasons switched in the LP!

In any event, the Federal Court determined in 2007 that the switching of boys and girls seasons in LP tennis and UP soccer was legal (after all, the Court itself had offered the changes as acceptable options in 2002); and the Court said that the MHSAA had gone to extremes to explain all the options to schools and listen to their opinions.

Demonstrating their characteristic independence, UP schools have not switched their boys and girls soccer seasons; and some now want the MHSAA to make an exception so they can play in the MHSAA’s fall boys tournament and spring girls tournament. But unlike those schools, which are not specifically addressed in the Federal Court Order, the MHSAA is subject to that Order and cannot make exceptions or grant waivers without violating the Court’s Order.

Based on the rationale of the 2007 Court Order, there is only a slim chance the Federal Court would ever modify its Order. The best chance will occur when there is a Motion filed jointly by the original parties to the lawsuit. It must address both genders, not just girls. It must be a permanent solution, not a temporary exception. It must require no other sport season be changed, for that would just upset another sport community and derail this effort.


Catherine Wilson
# Catherine Wilson
Friday, June 21, 2013 1:42 PM
We teach our children to strive for excellence, be a team player and be the best they can be, which aligns with the goals of the MHSAA. It is disappointing to see and know that the Varsity Girls Soccer teams in the Upper Peninsula know that their only goal is to win as many season games as they can and whether they have an awesome season and could go on to play more in finals they cannot. Their season ends knowing they only lost two games this season and that has to be good enough. They cannot play on and try to win a CHAMPIONSHIP for their school!!!! These young ladies pour their sweat, blood and tears into this sport and work together for their coach never giving up......though knowing they will only play a regular season. The dedication of these young ladies for soccer is relentless, as your dedication for them should be!!! Teach these girls that they should never give up, as you should not give up on them in this fight!!
Ron Kaunisto
# Ron Kaunisto
Saturday, June 22, 2013 12:48 AM
Sault high girls varsity soccer team is not included in the state playoffs because they are in the UP, not fair to the girls.
Jennifer LeBlanc
# Jennifer LeBlanc
Monday, June 24, 2013 8:52 AM
My children have been involved with U.P. High School Soccer programs since 2004, and most recently, my daugther completed her freshman year with the local girls High School soccer team. Watching my children being passionate about the sport of soccer; playing with intensity and committment, and the season ending with no hopes of being involved in a significant overall Michigan State tournament has been unfulfilling for my three children. The above-mentioned lawsuit has impacted hundreds of U.P athletes over the years negatively, treating them as less than capable to compete state-wide with similar athletes. Creating fairness with high school sports should be a priority of the MHSAA. It would be great to see equal opportunities for the UP high school athletes to enjoy the satisfaction of playing their best right next to any lower peninusla athlete in a tournament. Any athlete desires the chance to play his/her very best and in most cases, playing in state championship tournaments is the ultimate satifaction for any high school athlete. Lets do the work to make this happen for all the UP athletes negatively impacted by this Michigan lawsuit.

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.

From the Director

From the Director is the official MHSAA Blog which will touch on pertinent school sports topics periodically throughout the school year from various MHSAA Staff.