Adult Errors

February 26, 2016

Every month, the MHSAA Executive Committee considers requests to waive eligibility rules for students. In very many cases, the student has become ineligible largely as a result of actions by others, most often a transient, broken or otherwise dysfunctional domestic environment.

While the Executive Committee starts the consideration of every case with a bias toward helping the student, the Executive Committee does not accept as a blanket excuse, “It wasn’t the student’s fault.” That alone will not win a waiver for the student.

When schools utilize an ineligible player in competition, resulting in forfeiture of the contest, it is almost always an inadvertent violation, often an administrative oversight. Once again, there is an inclination for people to appeal the required forfeit because, “It wasn’t the kids’ fault.”

Every third year or so, a school team will participate in more than the maximum number of contests or days of competition permitted during the regular season, and lose its MHSAA postseason participation privileges in that sport. Again, this is almost always an administrative misunderstanding ... “an adult’s error which shouldn’t penalize the team.” Again, “It wasn’t the kids’ fault.”

If every rule was unenforceable when it was an adult’s error, not a student’s fault, there would be few enforceable rules in school sports, and increasing disregard for rules. It has been encouraging to have so many people contact the MHSAA office in support of that message.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.