Counting Concussions

December 9, 2016

Member high schools of the Michigan High School Athletic Association are in the second year of required reporting of concussions that occur during practices and contests in all levels of all sports served by the MHSAA. In year one there were 4,452 confirmed concussions reported. Less than two percent of almost 300,000 participants sustained a concussion, about half of which caused the student to be withheld from activity for between five and 15 days.

Not surprisingly, approximately half of the confirmed concussions were reported by Class A schools, which typically sponsor more sports and have larger squads than smaller schools. Class B schools provided almost 30 percent of the reports; Class C schools nearly 15 percent; and Class D schools less than six percent.

As we transition from fall to winter season, we can begin to make comparisons between years one and two of the mandated reporting. At this point, schools are reporting 1.6 percent fewer concussions this year than last.

This is surprising, because sideline personnel of member high schools have become more alert to the signs and symptoms of concussions. We anticipated that this would lead to more concussions being reported.

It is possible that these early stats are a sign of real progress in reducing head injuries in school sports. And, grabbing our attention most from the early reports is that 11-player football is reporting 3.9 percent fewer concussions as of Nov. 30, 2016 compared to the same week in 2015; and boys soccer is reporting 10.9 percent fewer than on the same date last year.

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.