Large Topics for the Lower Level

December 22, 2017

Editor's Note: This blog originally was posted May 21, 2013, and the topic continues to be of prime concern today.

Sometimes our meeting agendas give the impression that junior high/middle school programs are unimportant or an afterthought; but that was not the case during the MHSAA Representative Council meeting May 5 and 6, and it will not be the case at many meetings throughout the next 12 months at least.

Here are just two of the tough multi-faceted topics that the Representative Council has asked to be addressed at constituent meetings from now through next February and will be studied by the MHSAA Junior High/Middle School Committee, Classification Committee and many of the MHSAA’s separate sport committees:

  • Are current season limitations for contests and limitations on the lengths of contests appropriate for the junior high/middle school level? Do the current limits reflect the correct philosophy for sports at this level? Do they accommodate the four-season approach many schools encourage? Do the limits drive some students to non-school programs? Do they cause some schools to not join the MHSAA?

  • Should the MHSAA provide rules, programs and services for 6th-graders who, in nearly 80 percent of situations, are located in the same buildings with 7th and 8th-graders? Does the MHSAA’s lack of involvement encourage the same by schools, and allow non-school programs to fill the resulting void; and does this drive those students away from school-based sports permanently? Or would the MHSAA’s involvement at this level pressure school districts to add sixth grade programs and services at a time of dwindling resources for the 7-12 grade program?

  • to benefit both kids and their schools at the junior high/middle school level as at the high school. Our agendas for the

We have always maintained that there is at least as much potential for school-based sports next year will have that belief as its foundation as these tough topics get the time they deserve.

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.