By The Book

January 16, 2018

The Michigan High School Athletic Association is unfairly criticized by the uninformed for inconsistently administering the Transfer Rule.

That some students are eligible and others not after a change of school enrollment is the result of 15 stated and necessary exceptions within the Transfer Rule that can cause some students to be immediately eligible while others have to wait about one semester before they become eligible to participate for their new school. The rule, as written, with 15 pretty cut-and-dried exceptions, is consistently applied.

Some students have their ineligibility extended from one semester to two because an athletic-motivated transfer was alleged by the student’s previous school and confirmed by the MHSAA, OR because one of the listed athletic-related links was found to be present by the MHSAA without any school needing to make a written allegation of an athletic-motivated transfer. Some students have their eligibility extended further – up to four years – because they transferred as a result of undue influence (athletic recruitment).

So, if you read that one student transferred without any loss of eligibility, and another transfer lost one semester of eligibility, and another lost two semesters of eligibility, and another student lost even more, it is a function of the specific rules involved and their application to the specific facts of the different students’ situations.  

It’s not bias, but the book (the Handbook that all member schools adopted); it’s not favoritism but how the rule applies to the facts of each case.

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.