Baby Steps

April 8, 2014

Two first, small steps have been taken in the direction of making school-sponsored sports for junior high/middle school-age athletes more attractive to these students and their parents.
Next school year, MHSAA member junior high/middle schools have the option to increase the length of quarters in basketball from six minutes to a maximum of eight minutes and to increase the length of quarters in football from eight minutes to a maximum of ten minutes.
In late March, the MHSAA Representative Council approved these recommendations of the MHSAA Basketball and Football Committees which had favorable reaction also from the MHSAA Junior High/Middle School Committee and from the Junior High/Middle School Task Force which is meeting throughout 2014 to bring special attention to long languishing issues of policy and programming for students prior to high school.
It is hoped that the up to eight additional minutes in school-sponsored basketball and football contests will allow more students to get playing time in more games, and we fully expect that it will also mean more playing time in all games for some students. Both are needed for school sports to be competitive in the youth sports marketplace.
These may have been among the easiest decisions the Representative Council will face as the Junior High/Middle School Task Force works its way through many tougher topics during 2014 when, in many cases, societal trends will confront sacred cows.

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.