Health & Safety Journey

September 30, 2014

The Michigan High school Athletic Association is a bit more than halfway through an eight-year effort to shine the light on, and provide leadership for, four health and safety issues for school sports.
Four and five years ago our health and safety focus was adding more health history to the preparticipation physical examination process and printed forms. With the essential assistance of the Michigan Department of Community Health, this was done, and it earned widespread, positive reaction from Michigan’s diverse medical community.
Two and three years ago our focus was the head; and our early adoption of an all-sports return-to-play protocol after concussion symptoms became a national model.
Last year and this, heat and hydration has been the focus. The MHSAA imposed on its own tournaments, and recommended for member schools’ practices and contests, policies to manage heat and humidity that include a reduction or modification of activities when the heat index reaches a certain level and cessation of all activities when the heat index reaches an even higher level.
Next school year and in 2016-17 the focus will be the fourth “H”: hearts. Tests for heart defects are expensive and results are often misleading, and the triggers of sudden cardiac arrest are unpredictable. Therefore, we will be pointing to the two actions medical authorities appear to agree upon most: (1) the need for planned and practiced emergency procedures, and (2) the need to have AEDs nearby, in good working order.
We urge MHSAA member schools not to wait for the MHSAA focus to make this a local school focus, and we recommend the MI HEARTSafe Schools initiative. See the HeartSafe Action Plan or the HeartSafe School information for details.

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.