Basketball Tournaments on the Move?

March 3, 2017

It is uncertain where the Michigan High School Athletic Association Boys and Girls Basketball Tournaments, currently at the Breslin Center of Michigan State University, will be conducted in 2018 and 2019; and after that, there are questions of when they will be conducted.

The most serious of several concerns is that MSU can no longer guarantee Breslin’s availability for the MHSAA Semifinals and Finals. This is the result of a change in the format of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament that assigns its 16 regionals to the top 16 seeded teams.

That schedule conflicts with the MHSAA Girls Basketball Semifinals and Finals in 2018 and 2020, and with the MHSAA Boys Basketball Semifinals and Finals in 2019.

In 2016, when MSU’s women’s basketball team was highly seeded, it had to travel to Mississippi State University because the MHSAA girls tournament was occupying Breslin. The contract that guarantees MHSAA priority ends with this year’s tournament, March 16-18.

The MHSAA is proceeding on two tracks. First, it has just distributed a “Request for Proposal” to MSU and other potential hosts for at least 2018 and 2019. There are options for venues to submit proposals for boys, girls or both.

Second, the MHSAA has begun what is likely to be a long discussion regarding dates. For example, if the girls season started and ended one week earlier, the NCAA conflict may not occur. However, this would likely require a one-week earlier end to the girls volleyball season in the fall, which some people have advocated but others are certain to oppose.

A flipside variation of this idea is to start and end boys basketball season two weeks earlier than is the case now, and to delay the start and end of girls basketball season by one week. This is a means of reducing the volleyball/basketball overlap for girls in November, and it would avoid that March weekend when the NCAA Division I women’s tournament can be a conflict.

Another option is to start the boys season one week earlier, extend the girls season one week later, and conduct the two tournaments simultaneously over four weeks – different days of the same weeks for Districts and Regionals; with Semifinals for both genders around the state on the weekend when the girls tournament has ended in the past; and then Finals for boys and girls at a single site on the Friday and Saturday when the boys tournament has traditionally ended.

Unless things change at the NCAA level, none of these models guarantees a schedule that is always free of conflicts with both the boys and girls MHSAA tournaments. Therefore, other innovative but possibly even more intrusive, changeable and tradition-breaking calendar adjustments could also be investigated that might provide a better long-term solution than merely changing venues.

Venue decisions are the responsibility of MHSAA management and should be made by early May. Calendar changes, if any, will be membership driven and may take more than 18 months to finalize.

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.