More than Fun and Games

September 24, 2014

Five years ago there were many skeptics when the MHSAA redesigned its website and included twice-weekly blogs by the executive director and active Facebook and Twitter pages as well as YouTube channels, and gave constituents and critics alike an opportunity to post comments. Some skeptics said we were being distracted with frivolous fun and games, and others said all this interaction would be a persistent source of problems.
In fact, for the MHSAA, this constituent engagement has been about much more than fun and games and it’s been a means to solve problems.
Our primary use of social media and other means of constituent engagement has been to drive people to high school events and to the MHSAA website where the distinctive messages of educational athletics would stand out.
Rather than creating problems, allowing the crowd to enter scores on has led us to post more accurate scores more rapidly than when we depended on school coaches or administrators alone.
More recently we have been reviewing our event emergency plans and our office business continuation plans, which had been developed before social media became a fact of life; and now we are revising those documents to make social media the primary means of communication during such problems.
It is entirely through social media, primarily Facebook and YouTube – that the MHSAA has caused people to be talking about sportsmanship and inciting larger, more positive student and adult spectator sections at high school contests. That’s our award-winning “Battle of the Fans” that moves into its fourth year in 2014-15.

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.