It’s Not Where, But How

April 28, 2017

As happens from time to time, but too often, the urgent has crowded out the important for the Michigan High School Athletic Association this spring. For example ...

  • A flooded soccer field at Michigan State University has forced relocation of the MHSAA Girls Soccer Finals in June.

  • The extravagant demise of The Palace of Auburn Hills following the relocation of the Detroit Pistons to the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit is forcing relocation of the 2018 MHSAA Individual Wrestling Finals.

  • Lack of availability at MSU‘s Breslin Student Events Center on the dates of the three-day MHSAA Girls Basketball Semifinals and Finals in 2018 and boys championships in 2019 is forcing changes for those tournaments.

When, after countless hours of study and discussion, these and other venue changes are announced, they generate many media reports and considerable constituent comment – in fact, much more attention than two years ago when the MHSAA announced three actions that were unprecedented nationally to promote participant health and safety: mandated concussion reporting, free concussion care gap insurance, and two sideline concussion detection pilot programs.

Where MHSAA championships are staged is not inconsequential, but it is infinitely less important than how interscholastic athletic programs are conducted during practices and contests at the local level all season long.

When we are consumed with where we play, we divert valuable time and energy away from necessary attention to what we should be doing and how we should be doing it.

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.