First let me say, it's been a tough start to the fall sports season for everyone involved all the way around. Finally, student athletes and coaches were given the go ahead to play and everyone was thrilled. Well, not everyone.

When the high school football season finally kicks off here in Michigan missing for the usual "Friday night lights" will be the dance teams and marching bands. On September 3, the MHSAA released their statement with guidelines in place and best practices set to move forward with fall sports. Although both pom teams and marching band were not mentioned as being given the go ahead. Nor was cheerleading, but they are moving forward with their season.

As a former coach, I spent 20 years on and off coaching the dance team at Grand Blanc High School, I can tell you how hard this is on these students. Pom for instance, is a year long sport that basically starts with tryouts in April and goes through the end of basketball season.

Just like with any other sport, the training and long hours is a passionate commitment. They also have  to abide by the guidelines of the MHSSA for code of conduct and academics even though they are considered a club, not a sport. That's  what leaves both parents & team member questioning the decision.

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I put a call into the MHSSA myself to get clarification on why these two groups are having their season halted. John R. Johnson, Director of Broadcast Properties, Michigan High School Athletic Association told me there are two main deciding factors as to why both won't be taking the field.

First is liability. "These groups, (football players and sideline cheerleaders), are covered at games and practices under MHSAA insurance and local school districts require those students to meet all athletic eligibility requirements", Johnson said.  Second is space, as in the number of attendees at a game. Johnson told me,

"Executive Order 176, which allows for sports to be played this fall, gives strict guidance on limitations for both indoor and outdoor event participants in terms of gathering sizes and crowds.  To expand the group of participants beyond athletics, which in many communities would include hundreds of additional students (and times two spectators for each of those participants), we would be violating both the letter and the spirit of what EO 176 has provided our athletic teams – a chance to play and compete with strictly limited gathering and crowd sizes."

Grand Blanc Senior, and Varsity Pom Captain, Hayden Quinn took to social media to have her voice heard and her frustration known. With a team that is almost half seniors, the loss of their final year is heartbreaking.

"We didn’t think that this would have to be one of the many challenges we’ve already faced, and honestly, it shouldn’t be. Having dance team and band along with cheerleaders on the field doesn’t pose a threat, especially since we will be dancing at halftime in spaced out formations, as dances are usually created. Everyone on the team deserves this great season. We’ve worked too hard to have it be thrown out."

Photo: Hayden Quinn
Photo: Hayden Quinn

Many local Athletic Directors have "gone to bat" for both pom and marching band this year with no success. The  MHSSA does acknowledge that the decision is a tough one, but "are done in the best interests of community health".

A petition has been started in hopes of changing the MHSSA's mind on the matter. If you would like to show you support you can sign it here.


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