Money Matters

January 14, 2014

Every once in a while someone will take a potshot at the MHSAA by saying the organization is motivated by money.

My colleagues in leadership of high school associations in other states probably would get a chuckle out of reading that criticism because the reputation of the MHSAA and this executive director is the opposite. We’re seen as the conservative stick-in-the-muds who oppose national tournaments and promotions in spite of the money that could be made from them.

Here’s a good checklist to determine if “the almighty dollar” motivates a high school association:

  1. Does the association co-title its tournaments with the name of commercial sponsors?
  2. Do the association’s events, publications and websites look like a NASCAR production with corporate logos plastered everywhere?
  3. Does the association seed its basketball tournaments or gerrymander brackets to allow the teams with the better records (and usually larger crowds) to avoid playing each other for as long into the tournament as possible?
  4. Does the association charge admission prices that are more than a fraction of college and professional ticket prices, or just equal to the cost of a movie?

One or more “Yes” answers doesn’t mean an association has sold out; but if all answers are “No,” you can be sure that the association has other purposes for its decisions than making money.

And “No” is the correct answer to these questions in Michigan. In fact, the full answer to No. 4 is that the MHSAA has not raised ticket prices for either basketball or football at either the District or Regional tournament level for more than a decade.

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.