Middle School Limits

October 1, 2013

Many people over many years have contributed to developing the current season limitations for the number of contests permitted by MHSAA member junior high/middle schools. These good people have believed in a philosophy of sports at this level that encourages students to try multiple sports.

“Kids haven’t fully matured yet,” they say. “Kids haven’t been exposed to some sports yet. They don’t know what they might like or be good at. So let’s have policies and programs that encourage new opportunities and experiences at this level.”

The season limits that have been put in place allow some junior high/middle schools, or their entire leagues, to fit four distinct seasons in a nine-month school year, consistent with this over-arching philosophy to try new things and learn.

There is another educationally grounded and equally astute group of administrators and coaches who are concerned that the current limits are too severe in comparison to non-school youth sports programs. For example, community/club basketball or soccer programs may schedule 15 or 18 or more games per season versus the MHSAA limit of 12 at the junior high/middle school level.

These folks think this may be a disincentive junior high/middle schools to join the MHSAA. Worse, they think this may create a disincentive for kids to play school sports.

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.