The mission of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) is to serve member schools and the maximum number of their students by providing leadership and support for the conduct of interscholastic athletics which will enrich the educational experiences of all participants. The MIAA will promote activities that provide lifelong and lifequality learning experiences to students while enhancing their achievement of educational goal.
In the education of 60% of the young people attending the 343 MIAA member schools, athletic participation is a critical component. What should drive those responsible for student-athletes and their programs is the educational mission of school activities. For many students, the most stable environment in their lives is that provided by high school activity programs. Often the best opportunities for crisis intervention, drug prevention, "day care" programs, and the like are school activity programs. The cost is minimal, while the worth is maximal.
While winning contests, rather than losing them, is a laudable goal, it should not be the primary priority of high school sport programs. What should be the rationale behind high school activities is preparing students to succeed rather than merely to win games. Win or lose, students should learn lessons of a lasting and positive nature.
If the success of any high school athletic program is measured by an undefeated season, then 99% of the thousands of high school teams which participate annually in Massachusetts have failed. If a league championship is the measure of success, then 85% of our programs are failures. Even if success is measured merely by qualification for MIAA end-of-season tournaments, then more than 50% of our students are "losers." What should be encouraged is participation in varied activities under different teacher/coach role models. The percentage of student-athletes who complete their formal athletic experiences at the high school level is overwhelming (well in excess of 90%). Schools should focus their attention upon goals other than championships or the development of "blue chip" athletes. Young people need varied activities: time at the beach, time to study and, in fact, time just to be kids. Young people need to learn, to think, and simple to grow up. Schools should guide them, through athletics, to allow that to happen as comfortably as possible.
Regardless of whether he or she is a member of the high school faculty, the high school coach is a teacher, and often the most influential and important one to a student-athlete. The student-athlete
is participating within the school's activity program because that young person desires to do so. Consequently, such a student is often more attentive to a teacher-coach's lessons than those offered by teachers in required courses.
Within high school sport programs, young people learn the values associated with discipline, performing under stress, teamwork, sacrifice, commitment, effort, accountability, citizenship, sportsmanship, confidence, leadership and organizational skills, participating within rules, physical well-being and chemical health, striving towards excellence, and many other characteristics that come quickly to the mind of any educator to justify sponsoring interscholastic athletics, then values such as these must be the priority of every program. Ethics, playing within the spirit of the rules, and good sportsmanship (which is good citizenship) must be woven into the fabric of the high school athletic program.