The administrators at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep may have outsmarted themselves this time.
In defending their stance not to play a crossover football game against Birmingham Brother Rice, a bigger school than Notre Dame Prep, administrators said their sole reason is the safety of their students. They feel so adamant about the issue that the school’s administration is willing to be thrown out of the Catholic League in every sport for at least the 2016-17 school year.
Now, given all that we are hearing these day about concussions, and given that it is the biggest hot-button issue in football, who can argue with Notre Dame Prep’s stance? Everyone is all about safety, including me, and the administrators said they don’t want to put their students in harm’s way.
“With everything that’s popping out now with concussions, etc., we feel it’s a mismatch at this point in the game,” said Notre Dame Prep athletic director Betty Wroubel. “While our program is continually getting better, there’s just such a difference in the speed and the bigger, faster, stronger athletes. Can we sleep with ourselves at night if we’re knowingly putting our kids in a non-safe environment?”
So, how in the world did anyone at Notre Dame Prep sleep before it played River Rouge in a nonconference game last season? Rouge’s lineup featured some players bigger and faster than were found at Brother Rice last season, even though Rouge is a much smaller school.
Notre Dame Prep, a co-ed school, has 728 students and Brother Rice, an all-boys school, has 639, making Rice’s enrollment number 1,278 for classification purposes.
If that is too big of a disparity for Notre Dame Prep administrators, then why did they agree to play Bloomfield Hills with 1,751 students in Week 7 of the coming season?
What do they think Pinckney should do? Pinckney has 1,326 students and is in the same division as Grand Blanc (2,727), Brighton (2,211) and Howell (2,567).
And then there is South Lyon East, which 923 students, playing in the same division with Northville (2,281), Livonia Stevenson (1,831), Novi (2,017) and Salem (2,063).
Crossover games are a part of virtually every league. Last fall Grosse Pointe North, with 1,341 students, played Utica Eisenhower, which has 2,669 students.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, with 516 boys, will play Macomb Dakota and its 2,921 students in each of the next two years — and after seeing St. Mary’s play in the state finals, I think the Dakota players are the ones at risk.
No one in the Catholic League office remembers anyone at Notre Dame Prep voicing concern when Detroit Loyola, with 276 boys, was forced to play Warren De La Salle, which has 786 boys, a much bigger discrepancy than Notre Dame Prep would face.
As for concussions, CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) is nothing to take lightly. CTE is believed to be caused by repeated brain trauma over a number of years and decades.
We’re hearing a lot about CTE, but the cases we hear about are former NFL players who played college football for four years and had lengthy NFL careers. But we’re talking about high school football here, where 98% of the kids never play after high school.
If football is such a dangerous sport and the safety of its students is its biggest concern, then Notre Dame Prep should drop football altogether.
Listen, you are either in a league or you are out — and Notre Dame Prep is out … in every sport, and its student-athletes have the school’s administration to blame for that.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.