Battle of the Fans

March 27, 2012

Guests at the MHSAA Girls and Boys Basketball Tournaments at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center the past two weekends saw the result of the MHSAA’s first “Battle of the Fans.”  The idea came from the MHSAA’s Student Advisory Council, and it spread through social media.  Read about it here.

We embraced this idea of our Student Advisory Council because a “Battle of the Fans” is something we can do, and most other youth sports cannot.  In the world of youth sports, fans are almost unique to school sports.  Fans aren’t found at AAU tournaments or US Soccer Development Academies like they are at school sports events.

We embraced this idea because fans are a part of what defines school sports and makes high school sports different than other youth sports, and makes interscholastic athletics a tradition in the United States like nowhere else in the world.

We embraced this idea because some people say that high school sports attendance is down and school spirit is declining.  This initiative demonstrates that is not true everywhere, and doesn’t need to be true anywhere.  It can help to motivate better spirit in more schools.

We embraced this idea to get more people talking about what is and is not good sportsmanship, and to encourage students to reengage in school events in more positive ways.  This should make for more and even better competition, and dialogue, in 2013.

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.