Attendance Trends

March 27, 2015

Media across the US have been reporting the decline in attendance at intercollegiate football and basketball games. “It’s a national epidemic,” according to a Charleston (SC) Post & Courier column this month.

This should surprise no one. And it’s the latest proof that it is possible to get too much of a good thing. And when it comes to college football and basketball games, there is far too much indeed –

  • A few too many football games during the regular season, far too many of those games televised, and an absurd number of postseason bowl games of zero significance.

  • About two times too many basketball games during the regular season, far too many televised, and too often with absurd starting times and post-midnight conclusions.

The over-exposure of the college product began to suck the life out of high school football and basketball attendance two decades ago. And as the higher profile college programs have done more and more to promote their events, lower profile college programs have paid the price. Higher profile programs are now gnawing on each other’s bones.

All of this makes life tougher for us at the interscholastic level; but at the MHSAA, we’re not merely whining – we’re working to increase the attendance and enhance the spectators’ experience. A staff task force has been generating ideas, and the Representative Council has been generous with encouragement and support to implement changes in the MHSAA tournament atmosphere.

Perhaps we can pick up a few of those fans who have defected from the high price of college tickets and the slow pace of their televised games.

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.