Competitive Classes

May 7, 2013

After the classifications and divisions for MHSAA tournaments in 2013-14 were posted on last month, there were more questions and comments than in previous years.

Some of this results from electronic media – how quickly our information gets distributed far and wide, and how easy it is for people to email their opinions.  This isn’t bad.

But we were able to discern in the feedback that there is poor public understanding of school enrollment trends in Michigan.  For example, many people objected that the spread between the largest and smallest schools in the classifications and divisions has grown too large.

In fact, taking the long view, the difference between the largest and smallest schools has been shrinking:

  • In Class D, the difference between the largest and smallest school has trended downward over the past 25 years, and will be approximately 20 percent smaller for 2013-14 than in 1989 (to 189 from 247).
  • The same is true in Class C, although less dramatically (to 221 from 259).
  • The same is true in Classes B and A, although less consistently (from 496 to 464 in Class B; and from 2,111 to 1,888 in Class A).

If there is need for more than four classes in basketball or girls volleyball, or for more than four “equal divisions” in most other sports, it is not because of the reason most often cited.  That reason – that the enrollment spread is growing too large – is not supported by the facts.

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.