Our Tools

March 11, 2014

MHSAA staff does very many things, including these two tasks: (1) we use the tools we have; and (2) we strive to develop more effective tools.
The tools we have are limited. We don’t have a huge staff to conduct investigations. We don’t have subpoena power to coerce disclosure of testimony and documents. We don’t have rules to cover every situation.
Thus, it feels like some people get away with things; and sometimes they do. We don’t have the tools to catch them or convict them. That is the inescapable condition of every voluntary statewide athletic association in the US.
But the other thing we do is keep working on better tools. Rules with broader reach and/or fewer holes. Penalties that are a greater deterrent to some people, and more punitive to others when deterrence doesn’t work.
Developing new rules is a tough process. Sometimes it takes months or years to get membership buy-in. Sometimes the “no-brainers,” so-called “easy solutions,” get shot down by lawyers who demand the most narrow remedy to each and every excruciatingly detailed problem.
We work today with the tools we’ve been given through the democratic processes of our voluntary association. And we keep working on ways to sharpen and strengthen those tools in ways that are reasonable in breadth and depth, rationally related to the basic tenets of a voluntary association, one of which is local control. Obviously, these are two of the more difficult things we do.

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.