Not Right for Us

March 7, 2017

The proposal to utilize KPI Rankings to seed the District and Regional rounds of the MHSAA Boys and Girls Basketball Tournaments should not be adopted by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

This is no criticism of KPI Rankings per se, or of its creator who is assistant athletic director at Michigan State University; but it’s not the right thing to do for our statewide high school basketball tournaments.

The KPI rankings is one of a half-dozen means used by the NCAA to seed its Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. But the proposal before us is that KPI rankings become the one and only system for seeding the MHSAA’s tournaments. There would be no other criteria and no human judgment.

The result would be seeding that misses important details, like which teams are hot and which are not at season end, and which teams have recently lost players to injuries or ineligibilities and which have had players return.

KPI ranks teams on a game-by-game basis by assigning a value to every game played. A loss to an opponent with a poor record is considered a “bad loss” and has a negative point value. A win over an opponent with a good record is considered a “good win” and earns a positive point value. Margin of victory is a factor.

This is a nice tool for the NCAA to use, along with a variety of other tools and considerations that its billion-dollar budget can accommodate, but none of which is proposed for seeding the MHSAA tournaments. KPI Rankings is not sufficient as the one-and-only seeding criterion for MHSAA tournaments.

Moreover, dependence on a seeding system owned by a single individual, who is outside the MHSAA office, and who has the potential to move from MSU to anywhere across the USA, is a poor business strategy.

If there is to be seeding, there are more appropriate ways to do it for the high school level. But first there needs to be clearer consensus that seeding is a good thing to do, philosophically and practically. In the MHSAA we do this sport by sport, and level by level. And the jury is still out for seeding in Michigan high school basketball.

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.