Classification Trends

April 14, 2015

Every year, just as winter tournaments are concluding, MHSAA staff are already pointing to the following school year, including finalizing and publishing the classifications and divisions for MHSAA tournaments for the next school year.
For 2015-16, there are 754 member schools classified, an increase of five over 2014-15.
The sports with the largest increase in school sponsorship are girls soccer (+11), girls competitive cheer (+8), wrestling (+7) and boys bowling (+6); while the sports with the greatest decline in school sponsorship are girls softball (-8), girls skiing (-6) and boys skiing (-5).
The enrollment range between largest and smallest school is at historical lows in Classes B and C and near historical lows in Class D. The enrollment range in Class A increased for the third consecutive year; it’s now 259 more students than five years ago, but 718 fewer students than 10 years ago.
These statistics undermine arguments by some who opine that the enrollment ranges are too large and that more classifications and divisions for MHSAA tournaments are needed today.
Even in Class A, which is the only classification for which the enrollment range has been increasing in very recent years, it’s the schools in the mid-range of Class A that are most successful. For example, in this year’s Class A Boys Basketball Tournament, the average rank of the 16 Class A Regional finalists was 85th of 185 Class A schools in the tournament. And the four teams in the Class A Semifinals at MSU ranked 72nd, 75th, 94th and 171st in enrollment among the 185 schools in Class A basketball.
No, Class A schools get little sympathy from those of us who crunch the numbers and manage the tournaments. Even though the enrollment of the largest Class D school keeps declining, it is the very smallest of our member schools which must actually climb the largest mountains to MHSAA titles.

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.