Default Setting

January 25, 2012

In the computer world we’ve become accustomed to the “default setting,” a place our computer returns without any intervention on our part.

It is not too long a leap to apply this metaphor to school-based sports. To suggest that with major college and professional sports programs crashing with scandals and strikes, the safe setting in the world of sports is interscholastic athletics.

With the absence of gaudy glitz and glamour, school-based sports has reduced possibilities for “operator error.”  It is almost as if school sports is fresh out of the box, pre-installed with policies and procedures that allow coaches and administrators to operate with a minimum of moves, motivations and messages.

I said during MHSAA Update Meetings last fall that our current theme is “cheap and simple” – that is, doing what we can to keep costs down and procedures simple during these days when school personnel have reduced resources, including time, to devote to school sports.  Increasingly, I see the challenge as providing the MHSAA membership fresh from the box services.  For example . . .

  • This was the primary motivation for the MHSAA moving to online rules meetings for coaches and officials that has saved them countless hours and miles to fulfill their meeting requirements in recent years.
  • This has been the primary motivation behind the digital broadcasting program by which member schools have a safe, reliable place for streaming school productions of both athletic and non-athletic events.
  • This is the primary motivation for the ArbiterGame electronic management tools being developed for member high school athletic departments fully integrated with MHSAA policies, systems and data.

In a world of increasing costs and complexities, ours is a difficult challenge to keep things cheap and simple in school sports; but we’ll be trying.

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.