No Shortcuts

November 28, 2017

Last Tuesday at the office building of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, 49 athletic directors gathered for training. All are first-year ADs, and 38 of them were attending their second training session at the MHSAA.

It was the fourth session for new athletic directors the MHSAA has hosted since late July. A total of 113 different first-year ADs attended.

That’s a typical number of new ADs. And we’re experiencing the typical problems with mistakes and oversights that turn into ineligibilities and forfeits that come not just from new ADs but also from more veteran ADs who have had many new duties added to their days, but with less time and help to do everything that needs to be done.

At one school, an overwhelmed AD resigned after his school’s football and soccer teams had both used ineligible players. The school posted the job opening to replace him with the salary set at 50 percent above the previous pay. It has learned that cutting the budget for sports administration can do a lot more harm than good.

Full-time, continuously trained athletic administrators are essential to the conduct of safe and successful interscholastic athletics. There are no shortcuts to success, and a competent leader who is hungry to keep learning about policies, procedures and best practices is the starting point.

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.