The Definition

July 25, 2017

This question was posed to me by a colleague last fall: “How does your state association define education-based athletics and activities?”

My response was as follows: 

“Defining and defending educational athletics is one of the MHSAA’s four focus topics of 2016-17. We are striving to encourage and equip our core constituency to ‘blow their own horns’ about the values of school sports, the benefits of multi-sport participation and the meaning of success in educational athletics.

“To us, educational athletics is school-sponsored and student-centered, where the concern is for the whole child. It is local and inexpensive for both participants and spectators. It is amateur. It is inclusive, with as much potential to provide physical, mental and emotional lessons at the junior high/middle school level as the high school level, and in subvarsity programs as varsity programs, and in low profile sports as high profile sports.

“The programs are extracurricular: after the school day is when they should usually occur, and they are after academics in importance. They support the academic mission of schools.

“Educational athletics is not a right but a privilege available to students who meet the standards of eligibility and conduct established by the sponsoring school.”

I hope you agree.

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.