A Bright Spot

April 22, 2014

One of the most foolish moves school districts have made as funding for their schools has been reduced, or redirected to various mandates, is to eliminate the position of full-time athletic administrator.
Some districts have combined the job with classroom instruction; other districts have hyphenated the position with other administrative responsibilities. Many districts have reduced clerical support and event management assistance. Hours have been cut and professional training has become an afterthought or luxury.
And still the districts send out their student-athletes to compete and collide in front of crowds of emotional onlookers. These districts are risking problems far more expensive than whatever was saved by this shortsighted approach to staffing.
One of the few bright spots in this bleak picture is the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, which has made initial and ongoing training for athletic directors one of its highest strategic objectives.
Last month, over three days at its annual mid-winter conference, the MIAAA provided 138 leadership training courses of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association to 88 of our state’s athletic directors.
A team of 20 leadership training instructors, coordinated by Mike Garvey (Kalamazoo Hackett), delivers this national training program year-round to Michigan’s athletic directors. As a result of their efforts and the hunger of our athletic directors, Michigan leads the nation in the number of persons who have received the NIAAA’s Certified Athletic Administrator (CAA) designation.
The MIAAA also is establishing a mentoring program to help the CAAs take the next step, to Certified Master Athletic Administrator (CMAA). Michigan has 47 CMAAs.
Again this August, the MIAAA will conduct a Leadership Academy focusing on newer administrators. Meg Seng (Ann Arbor Greenhills) and Fred Smith (Buchanan) co-chair the academy, and the MHSAA co-sponsors it.
The MIAAA, and its commitment to deliver an athletic program worthy of the label “educational,” is one of our state’s greatest resources.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.