Grabbing Game-Changers

October 6, 2017

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has not been standing still while the athletic transfer situation has devolved into an eyesore for educational athletics.

Twenty years ago (1997), the association adopted a rule that extended from one semester to 180 scheduled school days the period of ineligibility in all sports for a student whose primary reason for changing schools is alleged and confirmed to be athletics.

In 2014, dissatisfied with the infrequency of that rule’s use and the difficulties it created between schools, the association adopted the “links” rule – the athletic-related transfer rule. This extended ineligibility from one semester to 180 scheduled school days in a particular sport when a non-school experience in that sport links the student to the school team to which he or she is transferring.

The newer rule has been easier to use. It doesn’t require that an allegation be made by the administration of the school from which the student is transferring. It has been less likely to pit one school against another, but more likely to pit parents against the MHSAA.

The new rule has been best used as a deterrent before a student transfers ... a warning. But the rule is of no use if one of the 15 exceptions that provides for immediate eligibility applies – for example, if there was a full and complete change of residence.

That is a gap that gnaws at those who want to nab the “game changers” – those transfers who add to the status of one team while dashing the dreams of another.

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.