Medical Mystery

September 4, 2015

Each year in MHSAA member schools there are approximately 200,000 student-athletes who complete a pre-participation physical examination for which an MD, DO, Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant will sign a form certifying the fitness of the student for one or more interscholastic sports.

That massive number of physical exams will produce a minimal number of complaints – mostly from medical personnel – regarding the “burden” of MHSAA procedures. But if there is one group for whom I have little sympathy, it’s for these medical offices.

During the past half-year I have had personal appointments at a half-dozen different medical offices. On each occasion of a first visit, I was required to complete a half-dozen or more forms, including information regarding my medical history. I became increasingly unimpressed with the antiquated operations of our health care system. This is a mystery to me.

  • Why is it that I must answer the same questions at every medical office to which I’m referred? Why, for example, don’t the orthopedic specialist and the physical therapist receive electronically my medical history from my primary physician?

  • Why is it that my primary physician does not receive a complete record of my immunizations from the county health department or any one of several pharmacies that has given me shots?

  • Why is it necessary to rely on the memory of the patient? Why isn’t there a medical database for me, accessible with my permission to every health care provider I see?

I expect that within three years, the MHSAA will follow a handful of other state high school associations to promote (and some state associations may require) electronic pre-participation medical history/physical exam forms which will not require parents to complete entirely new medical histories each and every year their child participates in school sports. 

While we may follow a few states by a year or two, it appears we will precede the medical establishment by many years in modernizing procedures. This will tend to assure that student-athlete medical histories are more complete and accurate; it will be a greater convenience to both parents and medical providers; and it will promote greater participant health and safety.

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.