The Limitation of Rules – Part 2

September 6, 2016

There may be an inverse relation between the length of the Michigan High School Athletic Association Handbook and the commitment to follow its rules.

There seems an increasingly popular attitude that if something isn’t specifically prohibited, then it’s permitted. The question is more often “Is it legal?” and less often “Is it right?” Technical integrity rather than ethical integrity.

There may not be more rule breakers today, but there sure seems to be more rule benders – people at the borders of what is allowed, testing limits.

Which leads to an even longer Handbook as efforts are made to plug the holes and fill the gaps.

Which is a temptation we must resist, for we cannot keep up. Like a dog chasing its tail, we’ll go in circles. Getting dizzy. Losing sense of what is important.

We were successful in that the 2016-17 MHSAA Handbook has the same number of Interpretations as the year before. A whopping 284 Interpretations. Our goal for 2017-18 should be fewer.

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.