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Hey MHSAA, help a sports editor out!

June 7, 2012
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Mining Journal

We've all heard the old saying, "You never know what you have until it's gone."

Often times it applies to a significant other, maybe a job you left, or for Green Bay Packers fans last season, it was defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.

For me over the last 17 months as sports editor of The Mining Journal, that phrase applies to my thoughts on a website I used to cringe at -

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It's the official website of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, and it tends to take a lot of heat from the local media who cover high school sports in the Badger State.

The website is known for slowing to a crawl or crashing at critical times. It is also by no means "a looker." It's a website made for the old Netscape Navigator browser or for those of you still using Internet Explorer 6 - which you really need to stop doing.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association website is a different story, however. is a very well designed site that is easy to navigate and even easier on the eyes.

Unlike the WIAA's website, features social networking tools directly on the home page - not just links or buttons - such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Other bells and whistles include an easy-to-find score center, streaming video and even mobile apps for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices.

That's all great and a giant leap in the right direction for, however, still has one large looming ace in the hole that the MHSAA does not on its website.

That's the basics.

When it comes to finding a time, date and place for an MHSAA postseason event, is the last place I look because that kind of information is never there.

Nearly a week after the Upper Peninsula boys and girls golf finals occurred, I still couldn't tell you when and where those events took place based on information from

All tells me is the events were hosted by Negaunee, Newberry and Mid Peninsula high schools and that the golf finals will take place sometime between May 30 and June 2.

Of those three finals sites, only the town of Newberry actually played host. Negaunee held the Division 1 tournament at Wawonowin Country Club on the other side of Ishpeming while Mid Peninsula held its tournaments in Escanaba and Gladstone.

And it's not just the U.P. that gets snubbed. Fans from downstate are left just as frustrated by a lack of info on what I'm learning can be a very pretty, but useless website.

Times and dates for downstate events are often just as vague, if not missing, and when events are postponed due to weather - such as the district baseball tournaments last week - no makeup dates or indication of a change in schedule is noted.

It had me thinking had just forgotten about those Division 3 baseball districts that fed into Negaunee's regional.

The WIAA website, while sometimes tough to navigate with everything so spread out, is always up to date and often shares important changes in postseason scheduling right on its front page.

As for times, dates and exact locations of the WIAA's state championship events, I can find not only this year's info, but a tentative schedule for the next two seasons.

That info wouldn't be just valuable to coaches, athletes, administrators and media who are trying to plan ahead, but for fans who want to spend their cold, hard cash at an MHSAA event.

I've never been one to discourage innovation, especially when that type of forward thinking is taken to the Internet. The steps taken by the MHSAA to expand its brand and reach other audiences through the Internet, social networking and mobile applications is something I'd like to see Northern Michigan University and the new group of WCHA schools do.

But as an editor in North Dakota once told me, "You have to crawl before you can walk."

The WIAA, the WCHA and the NMU athletic department can walk the walk. Right now, on the net, the MHSAA can't.

So let's see a few less blog entries by director Jack Roberts, and a few more up-to-date times, dates, locations and scores.

Then your app will land on my iPhone - right next to Instagram - instead of in my virtual trash can.

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.



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