Fewer but Bigger Changes

June 22, 2015

Accelerating a nearly decade-long trend, there was a sharp decline in the number of sport-specific proposals from MHSAA committees to the Representative Council during 2014-15 – in fact, the smallest number of recommendations for change in more than 30 years.
The dearth of proposals from some sports means all is well; however, for other sports, it only means that proposals to effect some major changes were not yet ready for prime time. For example, several sport communities are interested in seeding some aspects of their MHSAA tournaments, but they have a lot more work to do to draft the details and to develop broad support within their sport across Michigan.

The Representative Council has taken advantage of the repose to advance policies that extend across multiple sports and years. For example ...

  • The three-year phase-in of additional health and safety requirements for coaches. The second step – CPR certification for all high school varsity head coaches – commences Aug. 1, 2015. The third step – that all high school varsity coaches hired for the first time in Michigan after July 31, 2016, complete the Coaches Advancement Program Level 1 or 2 – takes effect with the 2016-17 school year.

  • The focus on concussion care in both practices and events of all levels of all sports. School year 2015-16 brings new reporting and recordkeeping requirements for member schools, as well as MHSAA-provided medical insurance protection for all eligible athletes, grades 7 through 12.

  • Changing out-of-season coaching rules. While the membership didn’t rally toward a totally new approach during the past year’s discussions, consensus did coalesce around four substantive changes to the current approach to manage and monitor out-of-season coaching, which the Council approved to take effect in 2015-16.

  • The proposed amendment to allow school membership in the MHSAA to begin with the 6th grade. Discussion on this topic resumed two years ago and it will continue through constituent meetings this summer and fall prior to the membership’s vote in late October. The change, if approved, would take effect Aug. 1, 2016.

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.