Bathroom Breaks

April 29, 2016

Restrooms and locker rooms have become the front line of the latest civil rights battle in America, with collateral damage to school sports possible.

The laws of the land (local, state and federal) are presently conflicting and unclear; but ultimately, they are likely to be liberally construed. In the meantime, it will be discouraging to observe litigation that pits one person’s rights to access against another person’s right of privacy.

What we advocate is a safe and supportive environment for all students, with as many decisions as possible made at the most local level possible where resources can be best assessed and allocated.

We take no political or religious position; we are on the side of students, facilitating opportunities for gender questioning or confirming students while promoting a fair and level playing field in competitive athletics for all students.

To preserve opportunities for females and consistent with state and federal statutes and a long history of case law, Michigan High School Athletic Association rules do not allow boys on girls teams in MHSAA postseason tournaments. Therefore, the only time the MHSAA is directly involved is when a male student is transitioning to female and desires to play on an interscholastic team designated only for females in MHSAA tournaments. We decide about eligibility only; local schools make the necessary accommodations.

If a student’s gender preference of male is disputed by facts, that student may not be allowed on tournament teams designated for females only. Each decision is made on a case-by-case basis, balancing the objectives of promoting both opportunity and fair play.

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.