The Cool Thing To Do

November 9, 2012

Last year the MHSAA Student Advisory Council suggested the MHSAA conduct a “Battle of the Fans,” and under the supervision of Andy Frushour and assistance of Geoff Kimmerly, Andi Osters and other MHSAA staff, the campaign was a tremendous success.

Nineteen schools submitted applications, a process which required communication within the school district about what is and is not suitable behavior at school-sponsored events, and then a coordinated effort to produce a video of the school and its cheering section in action last winter.

These videos have been viewed on YouTube more than 25,000 times, and more than 8,500 voted on Facebook for the student section they most favored.

The result was not only better sportsmanship at these schools, it made being at the games the “cool” thing to do.  Student attendance increased, and student behavior improved.  A double win no matter what happened between the teams on the court.

With the attention being given to student cheering sections during the MHSAA’s 2012 regional sportsmanship summits – attracting 1,000 students from more than 100 schools at four sites during October and November – we expect dozens more schools to compete in the 2013 “Battle of the Fans” – building up student cheering sections, guiding students in positive ways and producing videos that try to convince Facebook voters and Student Advisory Council judges that theirs is the best student support group among MHSAA member schools.

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.