Hurry Up and Wait

May 16, 2017

I work so far in advance of events that I’m the subject of some ribbing by my colleagues on staff of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

I prepare agendas for winter meetings during the previous summer – to help us plan. I draft minutes of those meetings before they occur – a device I’ve found helps to expose gaps in preparation for those meetings. I keep an ongoing file of possible questions for future surveys. I have bulging files that will help us address important topics when interfering urgent matters get out of the way.

So, it feels odd that I write to suggest athletic directors and officials assigners delay some planning for the 2018-19 school year.

You may have read in MHSAA communications or elsewhere that changes in policies of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament have made MSU’s Breslin Student Events Center unavailable to host the MHSAA girls Finals in 2018 and 2020-2022 and the boys Finals in 2019, that the MHSAA will conduct the 2018 girls Finals in Van Noord Arena at Calvin College, and that we will use the upcoming summer and fall to consider alternative venues, season calendars and tournament schedules for 2018-19 and beyond.

Decisions may be made that affect the season starting and/or ending dates of girls basketball, boys basketball or both, as well as other winter sports. Decisions could affect the end of the girls volleyball season as well.

Rather than consider this as a huge disruption, we are choosing to look at this as an opportunity to review how and when we do things, both regular season and MHSAA tournaments. Possibly there are some improvements that can be made.

On the other hand, we may find it inappropriate to upset sound scheduling and many valued traditions because of changes made in a college basketball tournament, and that we should use NCAA Division I facilities less or not at all, if necessary, to continue with our current schedules.

Nevertheless, the fact of these discussions and the potential for changes might cause leagues and local schools to delay in finalizing 2018-19 schedules and officials assignments.

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.