Making Participation Valuable

October 23, 2012

Boiled down, the role of state high school associations is to both protect and promote school sports, the second of which I comment on here.

It’s my experience that the most effective promotions speak for themselves.  The most effective promotions promote the fundamentals of school sports, like scholarship and sportsmanship and safety.  The most effective promotions provide tools to the membership at the grass roots level.

In Michigan we have a few initiatives whose primary purpose is to promote the value of participation, but we have many initiatives that encourage and equip those who make participation valuable.

For example, we administer the Coaches Advancement Program (CAP) all year long around the state to assist in the preparation of coaches for their important responsibilities.  Across the state during August through October we conduct Athletic Director In-Service programs.  Like many states, we conduct rules meetings for coaches and officials year-round, statewide. 

Each spring we have a training program for local officials association trainers and for their officers and leaders and assignors.  We conduct an annual Officials’ Awards and Alumni Banquet.

Every other February we conduct a Women in Sports Leadership Conference; and in the off years we provide mini-grants to support similar efforts on a more local level.

We conduct Sportsmanship Summits and provide mini-grants to leagues and local school districts to implement sportsmanship efforts at the local level where they can be most effective.  We conduct Team Captains Clinics and other student leadership events, and we provide mini-grants to support similar efforts on the league or local level.

None of these initiatives promotes the value of participation per se.  All of these initiatives encourage and equip those who make participation valuable.  That’s where I think our promotional efforts are best made.


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.