Deepening Appreciation

May 15, 2012

The first phase of ArbiterGame launches May 23.

The creation of these electronic athletic department administrative tools, tailor-made for Michigan high schools and fully integrated with MHSAA policies and procedures, is bridging most of whatever remaining gap that may exist in the MHSAA leadership’s understanding of and appreciation for the job of its member school athletic administrators and their support staff.

The MHSAA is in partnership with ArbiterSports to create the tools; and at each step of design and deployment, MHSAA staff are consulting with local athletic directors.  MHSAA staff have been engaged in training to help answer user questions from athletic administrators and secretaries.  There have been more hours than we can count when our staff has listened to athletic administrators talk about details of their tasks, and even more hours when our staff has talked about how we best respond to even the smallest details.

The process is helping MHSAA staff appreciate the long list of duties required for every athletic event for every level of every sport.  Never before have MHSAA staff talked so much about local scheduling of practices, games, facilities, transportation, workers and officials.  Never have we had a deeper and broader appreciation for all that is required – day after day, week after week, season after season.

As we develop administrative tools to ease the local school administrative burden, we deepen our understanding of the work in which local administrators are engaged.  We started this project to respond to athletic directors’ urgent requests to solve the problems of inadequate scheduling products and related support services from commercial vendors.  An unanticipated benefit has been to enhance our knowledge of their daily duties.  And we will be much better for it.

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.