Dangerous Plays

February 26, 2013

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The MHSAA’s fourth health and safety thrust for the next four years focuses on competition rules.  It intends to locate the most dangerous plays in each sport and to try to reduce their frequency.  For example:

  • We know that kickoff returns, punt returns and interception returns – plays in the open field with a change in direction – are the most dangerous football game situations.
  • We know that heading the ball in soccer is injurious, especially to younger athletes, and especially to females.

  •  We know that checking from behind is a cause of serious injury in ice hockey.

  • We wonder if protective headgear has a place in soccer, or if protective head and face protection has a future role in softball.

  • We know that ACL injuries in female basketball players and volleyball players is near epidemic and wonder if there is equipment or conditioning that can be mandated or recommended to save our players from what are serious and sometimes career-ending injuries.

We can make changes ourselves – through MHSAA sport committees – for the subvarsity level, but our committees can only make recommendations to national rules committees for varsity level play.  Over the next four years, we will be asking our sport committees to give more time to the most dangerous plays in their sport – identifying what they are and proposing how to reduce that danger.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.