Planning Period

June 27, 2017

When I was a teacher, I cherished my planning period – that nearly 60 minutes of quiet time every day when, while most other teachers in our school were in class, I could pause to plan for the classroom duties ahead of me.

In a somewhat similar way, I have come to count on and enjoy three times of the year which serve as the major planning periods for my work at the Michigan High School Athletic Association. These three periods are the several weeks late each fall, winter and spring when other MHSAA staff are consumed with the administration of MHSAA tournaments.

I hate to distract these busy tournament directors as they handle countless communications with coaches, athletic directors, officials and local tournament managers. Instead, I look ahead to what is next for the MHSAA and how to frame subjects to help facilitate some progress.

During the recent planning period (aka, the MHSAA’s spring season tournaments in baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis and track & field), I was looking down the road and around the corner regarding these topics especially:

  • Basketball tournament scheduling, Finals sites and District seeding.

  • Alternative approaches to regulating transfers.

  • Tangible outcomes from the Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation.

  • Re-energized efforts to promote good sportsmanship.

  • Strategies to turn around declining football participation.

  • Continued expansion of services for junior high/middle school programs.

  • Next steps needed to improve participant health and safety.

  • Innovations for recruiting and retaining contest officials.

  • Guiding and governing participation by “special” student populations.

  • And always ... how next (and every day) to better define and defend educational athletics.

These are the topics I hope to study, survey and discuss with my MHSAA colleagues and others during the next 10 months.

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.