Different Treatment

February 25, 2014

In a perfect world we would treat every transfer student in the exact same way. We would declare every transfer student from anywhere to anywhere eligible immediately. Or we would declare every transfer student from anywhere to anywhere ineligible for a period of time that applied identically to everyone; there would be no exceptions for any student.

But educators who have been conducting interscholastic programs in every state across the country have determined that “one size doesn’t fit all.” One single rule, with no exceptions, doesn’t work. It’s either too lenient in some cases or it’s too limiting in others.

So every state high school association has developed a general policy – that students who are new to a school are not immediately eligible for interscholastic athletics; and every state high school association in the country has made exceptions to that general rule for certain students and modified the period of ineligibility for other students.

Different treatment for different students is inherent in every state association’s transfer rule. Different treatment is not only reasonable; it’s inescapable.

It is not unfair to treat some students differently than others. Very often it’s the only way to promote and protect fairness in school-sponsored sports.

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.