Collateral Damage

August 17, 2015

Whenever something unusually crazy happens at the college level that may adversely affect high school athletics, there are calls that the MHSAA do something to stop the stupidity. I can count on these requests whenever a Division I college program offers a scholarship to a pre-teen; and when it happened recently in Michigan, the MHSAA heard more complaints than ever.

What the critics do not appreciate is that the MHSAA has zero authority for NCAA recruiting rules and grant-in-aid policies. If we did, things might be much different. For example:

  • There would be no recruitment in any form allowed before a student has completed 11th grade. There would be no offers or promises of scholarships prior to this date.
  • Then, there would be no in-person recruitment allowed that does not occur at the student’s school and arranged through that school’s administration.
  • When scholarships are offered, they would be for four or five years, irrevocable if the student maintains academic eligibility, whether or not the student plays a single minute. 

All the commentary regarding the cesspool of college recruiting is wasted air or ink if it doesn’t focus on those who have the authority to change that environment. It’s the college coaches themselves, the administrators of those intercollegiate programs and the presidents of those institutions. Any corrective measures they suggest to high schools miss the point that they caused their problems and they alone can solve them. We are just collateral damage.

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.