Classes or Divisions

April 4, 2014

Never is the continuous cycle of school sports more obvious to me than at this time of year. Just as winter tournaments conclude for 2013-14, we post the classifications and divisions for MHSAA tournaments in 2014-15.
Unlike many states which reclassify every two, three or four years, we collect enrollment figures each year and redraw the lines between Classes A, B, C and D each year in late March. And for all sports except basketball and volleyball, we place an almost equal number of schools that actually sponsor the sport into equal divisions – usually four divisions, but fewer for sports that are sponsored by a relatively small number of schools.
This traditional treatment of boys and girls basketball and girls volleyball – continuing with four classes rather than four divisions with an equal number of schools that actually sponsor the sport in each division – reflects that when last considered for change 17 years ago, there wasn’t much difference in the number of schools in the four classes vs. the four equal divisions in these three tournaments.
For 2014-15, of the 749 MHSAA member schools, 724 indicate they sponsor boys basketball, 716 sponsor girls basketball and 704 sponsor girls volleyball. (Among the sports in equal divisions, the most populous is baseball with 630 sponsoring schools.)

Last January, the MHSAA Classification Committee requested that staff provide the Representative Council what the numbers would look like for 2014-15 if these three sports were in “equal divisions” like other sports. The Classification Committee wasn’t recommending any change – just asking that the Representative Council see the numbers again.

  • In boys basketball, the number of schools in Divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4 would be 181, compared to 188, 182, 182 and 172 in Classes A, B, C and D, respectively.
  • In girls basketball, the number of schools in Divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4 would be approximately 179, compared to 186, 181, 182 and 167 in Classes A, B, C and D, respectively.
  • In girls volleyball, the number of schools in Divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4 would be approximately 176, compared to 186, 178, 180 and 160 in Classes A, B, C and D.

Obviously, every time more schools are placed in a division, the enrollment range between the largest and smallest school of that division expands. Therefore, a change to equal divisions places more schools and expands the enrollment range in the division of schools where enrollment spreads have the greatest impact - Division 4. It was our smallest schools that least liked the change to equal divisions in other sports 17 years ago. They would be the dissenters to this change for basketball and volleyball today.

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.