Many Big Changes Ahead

April 25, 2014

The May meeting of the MHSAA Representative Council is usually the one that produces the most action leading to the most change in Michigan school sports. This year, however, the Council could skip this meeting entirely, and still school sports would be in for the greatest number of significant positive changes that we have ever seen over any previous two- to three-year period.
In the area of health and safety, schools will be in the second year of the “Model Policy for Managing Heat & Humidity” adopted in March of 2013 and the first year of new Football Practice Policies adopted in March of 2014. The practice policies lengthen the early season acclimatization period from three days to four and reduce collision practices to one per day prior to the first game and to two per week thereafter.
This fall, the first of three enhancements to the health and safety preparation of coaches takes effect. All high school assistant and subvarsity coaches must complete a rules and risk management requirement similar to high school varsity head coaches. In the fall of 2015, all high school varsity head coaches must be CPR certified. In the fall of 2016, all first-time high school varsity head coaches must have completed the MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program Level 1 or 2.
This fall brings two big changes in the transfer regulation. The athletic-related transfer rule adopted in 2013 takes full effect Aug. 1, 2014, as do rules that remove different treatment of J-1 and F-1 visa students and the disparate impact of Federal laws on public and nonpublic schools with respect to F-1 students.
Meanwhile, the MHSAA has already committed all of 2014 to a comprehensive examination of some very large junior high/middle school issues (e.g., should we be including younger grades and should there be Regional tournaments); while during the second half of 2014, there will be new looks at out-of-season coaching rules and broader application of “subvarsity” level opportunities to transfer and international students.
Even if the Representative Council makes no changes at its May 4 and 5 meetings, the fall of 2014 will be the busiest I’ve been a part of in 29 years.

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.