A Different Play for Football?

April 30, 2013

Football is an original high school sport.  It is one of the first sports sponsored that was by schools even before the MHSAA existed as an organization.

Because football started in schools, not communities, football has been the high school sport least affected by non-school sports programs.  Until now.

Non-school seven-on-seven football threatens interscholastic football.  Commercialized seven-on-seven football threatens to do to interscholastic football what AAU types have done to basketball, and other entities have done to volleyball, soccer and other school sports.

A national committee was convened last year to address seven-on-seven football.  It recognized problems but could only wring its hands regarding solutions.

I’d like to see the MHSAA convene representatives of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association and the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association to mine for more meaningful responses in Michigan.

A limited number of days of seven-on-seven football involving school coaches and their students is already permissible during the summer.  If more days were allowed in the summer under tightly controlled circumstances (read “non-commercial”), would this tend to improve the environment of seven-on-seven football?  Would it also help to allow a few days of seven-on-seven football practice and play in the spring?  Or would that hurt the spring sports programs of schools?

Can we learn from what happened in non-school basketball and discern a different game plan for non-school football if we now respond differently (and more quickly!) for football than we did for basketball 20-30 years ago?

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.