Classification Comparisons

January 27, 2012

One of the ways statewide high school organizations evaluate their operations is to compare their policies and  procedures with similar organizations.  We do so cautiously, however, because there are so many variables – like population and number of schools, as well as the size, shape and location of the state.

We find that the most useful comparisons are with states of the upper Midwest and Great Plains and, even more so, with the statewide organizations of that region with a number of schools closest to our approximately 765 member high schools in Michigan.

By these criteria, Illinois, with about 780 high schools, and Ohio, with about 820 high schools, are most valuable to observe, while neighbors like Indiana and Wisconsin with about 400 and 500 high schools, respectively, are less valid measures for our work here.

Recently, to help the MHSAA Classification Committee have a larger view of tournament classification systems, we provided the Volleyball, Football and Basketball Tournament classifications of Illinois and Ohio, as well as our own:

  • All three states have four classifications in both volleyball and basketball, and only Ohio equalizes the number of schools in each class/division (as Michigan does in all sports except volleyball and basketball).
  • The enrollment ranges between the largest and smallest schools in the classification for the largest schools and the classification for the smallest schools (Classes A and D in Michigan) are much smaller in Michigan than in either Illinois or Ohio in volleyball and basketball.
  • In football, Ohio’s playoffs accommodate 192 football schools in six divisions determined prior to the regular season, while both Illinois and Michigan’s 11-player playoffs accommodate 256 schools in eight divisions determined at the end of the regular season.

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.