BOTF x 2

April 5, 2013

“Battle of the Fans,” an idea of the MHSAA Student Advisory Council, is one of the best ideas to ever flow from the MHSAA.  It has provided a new way of promoting one of the oldest, and most important, defining features of school sports.  That’s sportsmanship.

Where schools have participated in BOTF, attending school sports events is becoming cool again.  Crowds are larger and more positive.  Students and administrators are having positive discussions about sportsmanship.  Media are reporting on the positive changes they are seeing.

Take a look on at the videos submitted by 27 schools this year to enter the second BOTF competition.  Look at the videos prepared for the five finalists after the MHSAA’s onsite visit.

Spectator stands are filled with students – happy, engaged, energetic, cheering students.  Exactly what we want in school sports; exactly what is missing from other youth sports programs.

It’s our advantage – energized students, cheerleaders, pep bands, marching bands and mascots.  It’s what we have and what the AAU doesn’t have; what US Soccer Development Academies don’t have; what club volleyball lacks and what travel ice hockey is missing.

Using YouTube and Facebook, BOTF is a new way to present and an energetic way to promote school sports that is local, student-centered, high spirited and highly sportsmanlike.

Congratulations to our two winners so far – Frankenmuth in 2012 and Buchanan 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.