Beyond the Noise

September 13, 2013

It has been said that when the law is not in your favor, then argue the facts; or when the facts are not in your favor, then argue the law; and when neither supports what you want, then just argue.

And this is the time of year when we are reminded that old adage is true.

It is in August and September when the MHSAA staff processes more eligibility questions and the MHSAA Executive Committee considers more requests to waive eligibility rules for individual students than at any other time of year. Often it is the least meritorious cases that create the loudest noise.

It is during these months and the next that the MHSAA deals with the most stressful of forfeitures caused by the participation of ineligible players. When an ineligible student plays in a varsity football game, that forfeiture not only means the loss of that game; that loss could also mean the team loses a spot among the qualifiers in the Football Playoffs.

Difficult eligibility and forfeiture cases sometimes make for good publicity for the individuals involved, but they can create bad precedent for the future of the program if it is only those noisemakers who are listened to and served.

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.