By Dan Hardenbrook

This isn’t just about sports. Not anymore.

Whether or not you were in favor of fall football, the MHSAA screwed up. The way they came to the decision to move football to the spring was an absolute disaster.

The MHSAA organization should be embarrassed. Not just because they cancelled a sport. But also because they are a bunch of liars. They hid behind their office doors and waited until the end of the work week to make their announcement, leaving coaches to break the news during practice that was somehow safe 24 hours earlier. They can say what they want about collecting data and consulting the professionals. But all they did was lie right to our faces.

Want to play football in the spring? Good luck! Just make sure you get that check from Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. Because you won’t see a dime from the U.P. because we will still be buried up to our eyeballs in snow. Want to keep the seasons intact? That’s fine. Stop holding volleyball and cross country hostage. They’ve got games to get to.

To the MHSAA: Do whatever it is that you need to do. Just stop lying about it.

You told athletic directors that their programs could play if they ordered the right safety supplies. Thousands of dollars have been spent by schools who are financially hanging on by a thread. But they did it, because you told them they had to, and they actually do what’s best for their students despite the costs associated with it. They don’t profit off of kids like you do. They truly do what’s best for the students. Now you’ve gone back on your word and you couldn’t even give advance notice.

You told coaches, who volunteer their time, that if they followed all these extra rules their teams could play. So day after day and week after week, for almost three months they did exactly what you desired. You even praised them for how they handled it and said in late July that the response was “extremely positive” and that none of the reports came back with a bad case. Coaches cared for these kids all summer. And three weeks ago, you patted them on the back and told them to practice. You said it would be normal. Now they can’t play. Not just because of a virus. But because you lied.

You lied to the tens of thousands of kids who you teach to follow the rules. All those PSAs about being a good student athlete and showing good sportsmanship. You pat yourself on the back and shout “We promote the value…and VALUES of educational athletics”. It’s in your damn mission statement. You want to talk about values? Honesty, integrity, good sportsmanship? What paragraph is the part about lying to those kids? I think I missed it. You make the rules, we teach them to follow them. Then you turn around and rip it all away when they do the right thing. Way to go! That’s one heck of an educational experience!

Mark Uyl said in a radio interview earlier this week that he doesn’t mind facing the firing squad and being on the front lines as the target of all these complaints. “It comes with the territory” he said. Well, he shouldn’t mind. And he’s right. It’s all part of the job. But he shouldn’t do it behind a desk. I know he didn’t do this alone. He’s been thrown to the wolves by his very own people. He has a kid who plays football. But he is the leader of a nonprofit group that uses kids and games to make their money. In a lot of ways these kids pay his salary. All six figures. So he should be willing to fall on the sword. If not, don’t cash the check.

Either way, virus or no virus, MHSAA or not, I know football will be played eventually. Just don’t tell us it’ll be in the spring, then realize it won’t work up here. Whatever it is, whomever it is. Never, EVER lie to these kids again. Read your own darn mission statement then remember what it means.