Jousting at Windmills

July 19, 2012

Charles Barkley uttered famously last month that the worst thing that ever happened to basketball was the AAU.

While it doesn’t all occur under the Amateur Athletic Union’s banner, Mr. Barkley is not the first “authority” to offer such a brash opinion and to blame the AAU for much of what is bad about the current state of non-school basketball, where street agents and shoe companies corrupt children and their coaches, and where basketball is played with little emphasis on fundamental skills and team play.

Certainly, there are others to blame, including all who have made college and professional basketball a business lucrative enough to encourage excesses and unethical practices.  And all of this is bigger than any one state high school athletic association can change.

Nevertheless, the MHSAA is in its fourth year of quixotic jousting with the monster about which so many have been complaining so long.

Tomorrow for boys, and then eight days later for girls (July 26), the MHSAA is teaming up again with the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM) to provide Reaching Higher, “an advance placement course” for students who have both the interest and potential to participate in college basketball on some level.

Through Reaching Higher we intend for players and parents to gain greater appreciation for the rules and realities of the college recruitment process and for what it takes both academically and athletically to qualify for and succeed in intercollegiate basketball.

 Click here to view the 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.