Local athletic directors favor longer basketball schedules

Teams will play up to 22 regular season games next year

Reed City boys and girls basketball teams will be playing 22 games during the regular season for 2022-23.

Reed City boys and girls basketball teams will be playing 22 games during the regular season for 2022-23.

File photo

BIG RAPIDS – Athletic directors are getting set to a new twist with the 2022-23 basketball seasons.

The regular season has changed for the first time in decades from a 20-game to a 22-contest season, under a recent measure passed.

The MHSAA Council in March approved a Basketball Committee proposal that will allow, beginning with the 2022-23 season, high school basketball teams to play up to 22 regular-season games at every level (varsity, junior varsity and freshman).

Teams previously played a maximum of 20 games during the regular season. This change, the MHSAA said, brings MHSAA school schedules in line with what is allowed in most other Midwest states. Additionally as part of that proposal, mandatory preseason practice was reduced by one week, allowing teams to begin playing games after 14 days instead of 21. 
 
“I think that it's a great opportunity for us to connect with other nonconference schools in the surrounding areas,” Crossroads athletic director Jerry Dailey said. “It means new schools to play against and more games for the kids.

“I think we will get 22 games, if not really close to that number.”

Ryan Hansen of Reed City agrees.

“I'm in favor of playing a 22-game regular season,” Hansen said. “Often times our season consists of playing the same conference schools and not having the opportunity to play schools we wouldn't normally play. Next year we will play more non-conference games than we have ever played. I have also always wanted to host a holiday tournament. With 20 games, I was hesitant to use two of those games in order to do it.

“Now with two extra games, Reed City will be hosting our first annual Reed City Holiday Basketball Tournaments on December 30th and 31st for both varsity Basketball teams.  Our varsity girls team will host Holton, Ithaca, and Rudyard.  Our varsity boys team will host Buckley, Holton, and Ithaca. It will be fun for the kids to play tournament basketball in our own gym.”

This change, Hansen said, provides “more opportunities to play schools you wouldn't normally play, and provides tournament opportunities.”

On a two-week preseasons “I like it for the simple fact that it could give our multi-sport athletes a extra week off,” Hansen said. “Often times our football players would finish their season on a Saturday and have to turn around and go to basketball practice on a Monday. Pushing the start back a week will allow the opportunity for more rest. On the other side of this, one less week of practice before our first games will put more stress on our coaches to prepare for game play.” 

“The additional games will give our student-athletes more opportunities to compete,” Big Rapids athletic director Dawn Thompson said. “It also aligns better with our bordering states in giving equal opportunities for college recruiting purposes.”

Thompson also sees some minuses.

“With the additional games it will likely require us to reach out to schools farther away to complete our schedule,” she said. “Also, with the official shortage, it may be difficult to fill all games.

“We will do our best to fill our schedule with 22 games so our student-athletes have the same opportunities as the rest of the state. I like the shorter preseason as it will give us a better opportunity to fill the additional games. Our coaches give multiple opportunities in the off season that I believe keep us in condition and well-prepared to start the season.”

Athletic director Mike Fosburg of Chippewa Hills agrees.

“The additional games will give our student-athletes more opportunities to compete and display their skills,” he said. “But there’s also official shortages, travel for away games as we may need to expand out of our ‘normal’ travel area. Also, there’s burnout due to having to get games in when we already face obstacles in the winter.”
 
Fosburg said Chippewa Hills has 22 games scheduled for both boys and girls varsity teams. 

On a shorter preseason, “I like it as it allows our kids to recharge the batteries and be students until they need to be in the gym full time after their fall seasons,” Fosburg said.