Loss of Innocence

May 30, 2014

Last school year we were criticized for not looking before we leapt to the conclusion that some international transfer students at several schools were not eligible, and for ruling them ineligible for the then maximum allowable period of one calendar year.

In several cases – both school employees and others – told us that the students weren’t good basketball players, notwithstanding that it was people with interests in basketball who brought the students to our state, and that those people and others with basketball interests lobbied hard on the students’ behalf.

It turned out, almost without exception, those who appealed most ardently for the eligibility of an international transfer student actually had the least appealing cases. 

In the case of one student, we discovered an online video made a year earlier, taped while the student was still abroad, touting his height and demonstrating his basketball ability. Not about basketball, you say?

In another case where “basketball was not the issue,” a student later committed to play basketball for an NCAA Division I basketball program in 2014-15. He went from “mediocre” to the Mid-American Conference without ever playing his senior season of high school?

We were criticized during 2013-14 for being too suspicious, but the results of 2013-14 will make us even more suspicious in 2014-15.

Fortunately, the MHSAA will have a more complete set of tools to address transfer students this fall than it has had at any time in its history; and after what has been happening in recent years, people seem ready – even impatient – for the MHSAA to be enabled to move with more might when students – either international or domestic – transfer for athletic reasons.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.