The MPA Sport Season Policy has been written and accepted by the membership for the following reasons:
- to provide a “level playing field” between schools, so that one set of students is not placed at a disadvantage to others with whom they compete for state championships;
- to create definable seasons of competition which allow students to participate in various activities without coaches feeling the need to “compete” with each other for athletes within their own school;
- to discourage specialization in the sense that students are not deprived of a variety of cocurricular experiences which the high school “exploratory” life stage provides;
- to create a corridor which protects some personal time for students between activities;
- to provide opportunity for families to clearly define times for vacations and other family functions; and
- to prevent the exploitation and “burn out” of participant student athletes and coaches.
MPA member schools are required to limit all participation, play, or practice in a sport by all teams and individuals to the season to which the sport is assigned. This policy applies to all team and individual interscholastic competition grades 9 through 12 during the school year only and does not apply during the summer recess.
A coach, paid or volunteer, may coach a team that his/her high school aged son/daughter plays for outside the MPA assigned sport season if the son/daughter is the only student from that high school on that team. All other aspects of the sport season policy will apply.
In order to provide a window of personal time similar to the time available prior to the winter and spring sports seasons, summer recess is defined as the time period between the last day of the spring sport season to August 1 or fourteen (14) days prior to the beginning of the fall sport season, whichever occurs later. This does not exclude individual students from attending camps during this two-week period of personal time as long as all other Sport Season Policy requirements are met. Individuals choosing to attend camps during this two-week period may use school protective gear or track and field implements depending on each school’s policy. Schools wishing to attend a football camp off campus may not leave until the Monday morning of the first day of practice.
The principal of an MPA member high school may request a waiver for a spring sports season coach to continue to have contact with specific spring student athletes during the two-week period prior to the fall sport season. The request must be in writing and must be received by the Executive Director no later than July 25. The Executive Director is authorized to grant waivers only in unusual and specific instances (Example: American Legion coach). This waiver process is not intended to permit a coach to extend a summer program or to work at a camp during this two-week period. The principal may also request a waiver for a ski coach to coach his/her athletes in the New England competition that occurs just after the completion of the MPA ski season.
Booster Clubs are an extension of the athletic program and, therefore, are subject to the restrictions of the Sport Season Policy. It is understood that fund raising is exempt from this restriction for boosters clubs and coaches but not athletes.
The sport seasons shall be preceded by a practice period of a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of three weeks. During the practice period, teams may participate in clinics, scrimmages, round-robins, exhibition games, and invitational events.
MPA sports committees will establish dates for last countable games and play-off/tournament games.
Exceptions to the Sport Season Policy have been granted for teams invited to participate in MPA invitational tournaments, the Aroostook potato harvest, Deering-Portland and Cony-Gardiner football game, skiing (when weather conditions dictate delays), and faculty/student exhibition games conducted following the sports season.
Violations of this policy will occur when MPA member schools permit a team or individuals to play or practice a sport outside the sport’s season through use of high school equipment including facilities, provision of transportation by the school or a school-affiliated organization, or use of the school name for out-of-season sports activities. Additionally, activities organized for the purpose of an out-of-season practice, as defined by the Sport Season Policy, are prohibited. Coaches or advisors are prohibited from coaching or giving instructions about a sport to members of their teams individually or collectively outside the sport season for that sport. Others who may not organize or coach include, but are not limited to, school affiliated organizations and their members, captains, and players. Exceptions to this paragraph are:
- A (one-time) meeting for the purpose of administrative organization is permissible.
- High school students may assist their high school coaches in providing instruction to middle level or elementary schools following the regular season for any three-week period designated by the high school principal.
- Senior athletes may work with their coach after the close of the sport season in all sports except fall cheerleading, cross country, and winter track.
Coaches whose employment by a school is limited to coaching duties shall be subject to the same restrictions as regular school employees with respect to the Sport Season Policy.
Traditionally, fall cheering squads in many schools have been chosen in the spring in order to allow the group to attend cheering camps during the summer; this is a violation of the Sport Season Policy. The rationale is to allow all students an opportunity to attend cheering camp to improve their skills before tryouts rather than the former, more restrictive practice which eliminates students before such an opportunity.
The principal of MPA member schools is responsible to interpret both the meaning and intent of the Sport Season Policy for the local school and is also responsible for its enforcement.
Violations reported under this policy will be dealt with as outlined in Article IV of the MPA Bylaws. Violations of this policy may result in sanctions against the school; in no case will violations of this policy affect a student’s eligibility.
Waiver of the Sport Season Policy
Requests for waivers of the Sport Season Policy, except for end of summer recess, may be made to the Interscholastic Management Committee and must be written in advance of the effective time of the activity or date. The request for waivers of the Sport Season Policy must be made by the school principal. In no case shall the waiver be for a period of time to exceed one season. (See form, page 23).
Revised and Approved by the Membership, November 2002
Clarified by the Interscholastic Management Committee, January 2006
Clarified by the Interscholastic Management Committee, March 2009 and 2010