Bottom Lines

May 19, 2017

The cost of everything in everyday life seems to rise every year. Everything, that is, except the bread and butter revenue source of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Next school year – 2017-18 – is the 14th straight year that ticket prices for the District level of MHSAA basketball and football tournaments have remained unchanged; and it’s the 15th consecutive year without increase at the Regional level of those tournaments. Five bucks.

Meanwhile, the cost of venues hosting some MHSAA championships is rising rapidly. Even if calendar conflicts were not evicting the MHSAA from Michigan State University’s Breslin Center, steeply increased expenses could have the same effect.

There was a time when universities across the U.S. wanted state high school association tournaments using their on-campus facilities. This was a public service as well as a marketing tool for those institutions.

Today these universities derive much more revenue from higher international student tuition than is paid by the in-state students who first come to the campus to play in or watch state high school championships. Even more important than tuition dollars are research grants, royalties and donations to what is now the big business of higher education.

Where campus athletic facilities are operated outside the athletic department it is even more evident that money trumps the mission of public service, at least as it relates to facility usage and secondary school athletic programs which, to be sure, are less important than the search for world peace and cancer cures by our universities.

People might believe it’s more appropriate for MHSAA events to be on college campuses than in commercial arenas; but frankly, it’s getting hard for us to see a difference. The bottom line drives them both.

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.